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SHS seniors turn tassels

82 members of the Straughn High School senior class participated in its annual graduation ceremony on Thursday.

SHS senior treasurer Liam Philpott started the night off by giving words of encouragement to his fellow classmates.

“As most of you know, I was adopted when I was 12 years old,” Philpott said. “Although leaving China meant leaving behind friends and the culture I was living, it also meant I would be given opportunities I never dreamt of having. As C.S. Lewis said, ‘I was given the chance to change my youth.’ Not only had America given me a new path, but Straughn Middle and High School has also blessed me in more ways than I could have imagined. If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would be where I am today, I wouldn’t believe it. However, could not be more thankful for the people that have gotten me to where I am today.”

Philpott told his classmates that this chapter in their lives is unique.

“Each one of you can strive for greatness,” Philpott said. “I wish nothing but greatness for all of you.”

SHS salutatorian Spirit Hall brought back memories of her and her classmates’ time at SHS.

“The time has come and it feels like it has taken forever to get here,” Hall said. “Teachers, you have spent countless hours planning in order to help us learn. You spent your days equipping us not only with things like the Pythagorean Theorem but also with skills and character traits that grow us as people. To my peers, I would like to thank you for all of the memories that we have made that have made high school more enjoyable. As my peers, we have so many memories together that encourage us to keep going. Many of these memories come from the competitiveness of our class. I can think back to field day in elementary school, the intense dodgeball games we had in middle school and the class rivalries we all had during homecoming.”

When thinking about the class of 2021, Hall said she thinks about how they make the most out of every situation.

“Most importantly, this class is the class that is compassionate and caring,” Hall said. “Whenever we are faced with struggles or fears, we always come together as a class. We have written uplifting notes, raised money or simply given words of encouragement. It is because of these memories and the many others that I would like to thank you.”

SHS valedictorian Renae Byrd thanked her peers for the memories they have together.

“Most of us have known each other since we were five years old,” Byrd said. “We made some of our first friends in the classrooms of the kindergarten hall. We all made lasting impressions of each other and we didn’t even realize it was happening. We have all pretended we were asleep during naptime. We have all skinned our knees on the same asphalt top of the playground. It is now time for everyone to separate and go on with our own lives. Going on your own means making tough decisions. We can make decisions every day that will alter the course of our lives. So, it is imperative that the choices you make are made with happiness in mind.”

SHS principal Matt Cobb said it was a difficult school year, but a successful one.

“We began this year with some uncertainty, of course,” Cobb said. “We are very grateful to be able to see it through to completion. These students have worked extremely hard to earn their right to be on this stage tonight. Nobody is going to be able to take this away from them. We are very proud of what they have accomplished, not just what they have accomplished here tonight, but what they have accomplished throughout their time here at Straughn High School. Tonight marks a very special time in the seniors’ lives, but also a new beginning. With that comes a level of uncertainty, but I’m confident that you will go forward and be successful wherever life takes you. The colleges you attend and the jobs that you work at will not define you. You will be defined by the kind person that you are going to be for the rest of your life. You will be defined by the type of character you have. I challenge you to be a person who does their very best in whatever they do. Continue to pursue excellence and make good decisions by choosing to do the right thing even when the right thing is the hard thing to do.”