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MHS celebrates graduation

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Gratitude and advice were reoccurring themes in the Maplesville High School valedictorian speeches on June 4.

Each of the nine valedictorians was given the opportunity to speak during the graduation  ceremony. Several thanked God, family, friends and teachers for helping them get to this point.

Jackson Abbott said to face the challenges that they will face the graduates need to have a “clear knowledge of man’s past experiences discoveries and mistakes, and use this knowledge for the betterment of our future.”

“We must possess personal qualities of leadership and faith and motivation in order to be successful,” Abbott said.

He said every graduate now has the tools to improve society.

Abbott closed with the poem “A New Day,” which his grandmother had read in her salutatorian speech.

Jaycie Armstrong congratulated the graduates and thanked God for the opportunity to speak.

She said “having these amazing classmates by my side every day” helped her make it to graduation.

“We have all gained friendships that we will cherish forever,” Armstrong said. “… As we go on our separate journeys in life, I pray that we will always hold on to a part of this school, town and community.”

She also said she hoped younger students would see from the graduates’ example that they can reach their goals.

“Throughout our senior year, the main thing we learned was not to take our life, opportunities and everyday normal for granted,” Hannah Chambers said.

She reflected on how the class overcame the uncertainty of school activities during the COVID-19 pandemic and several traditions being canceled.

Allison Giles said the class has made “great memories and wish each and every one of you good luck on this crazy road ahead. Each of you will go far in life, and I can’t wait to hear about it.”

“I would like to give a special thanks to Coach Abbott for always pushing me to go that extra inch, as he would say during football season,” Caleb Hobbs said. “It wasn’t until now that I understood what going that extra inch means — it means you have to give more than just enough effort to accomplish the goals you are trying to reach, you must put everything that you have and even a little more.”

Ethan McDaniel took time to recognize the teachers who have had to juggle both in-person and online students this past school year.

“Some pieces of advice that definitely helped me succeed in my high school career are to find a reliable friend and stick with them — someone you can trust and count on to be there through even the worst moments,” McDaniel said. “Find someone who will push you to be your best, stay true to them and do not let something small ruin and corrupt your relationship.”

He encouraged the graduates to hold on to what they are passionate about and not give up on their dreams.

“To the upcoming seniors, class of 2022, I encourage you to take it all in and enjoy your last year of high school because it really does fly,” Emily McGee said. “To my fellow classmates, class of 2021, we finally did it … thank you for the amazing memories that we will all cherish forever.”

During his speech, Kyle Tillery gave recognition to his classmates.

“If you ask me, each of them is just as deserving as I am to stand before you all because I have seen how hard they’ve worked to reach this moment right here,” Tillery said.

He said his class voted him “most likely to succeed,” and he had “The same confidence in each of my classmates” that they would be successful as well.

He closed his speech asking for applause for the graduates.

Abrielle Wright recounted some of the disappointments of senior year because of COVID-19, but highlighted how these unexpected changes have prepared the students for the future.

“Never fear in life,” Wright said. “All it takes is 10 seconds of courage for your life to change.”

Salutatorian Haven Smith also addressed the audience and the graduating class.

“Along with my classmates, I have been surrounded by the most inspiring people, who have made it possible for me to be standing here today,” Smith said. “Parents, family members and teachers — You have all been in each of our lives for many years, and we are extremely grateful for your guidance and influence.”