Madison High School 2022 graduates reflect on fallen principal's legacy in grad ceremony

Madison High School 2022 graduates line up at the beginning of the May 21 ceremony, held at the high school gym.

MARSHALL - Former Madison High School principal David Robinson's daughter, Audra Robinson Adams, said his students were "his second family."

His impact on those students' lives was on display during the MHS 2022 class graduation ceremony - held at 10 a.m. May 21 at the high school gymnasium - as the student speakers honored his legacy throughout the ceremony.

Interim MHS principal Rhonda Cuthbertson led attendees in a moment of silence for longtime principal David Robinson, who suffered a stomach aneurysm Jan. 25 while helping to load buses and was rushed to Mission Hospital, where he died that night.

"We are here today to celebrate an amazing group of resilient and hard-working, forward-thinking young adults who have navigated through their high school careers during an absolutely unprecedented time," Cuthbertson said. "Our entire graduating class, as I told them the other day, has demonstrated the very notion that it isn't about what happens to you in life, but it is about how you respond. These young people before you have responded in force, and today we celebrate their resilience and their accomplishments."

Lexi Rogers, the 2022 class student body president, said it was "crazy" to finally experience graduation day.

"I'm sure we can all agree that these past four years were hard. Together we shared many tears, disappointments and heartbreaks," Rogers said. "But we also shared many laughs, victories and memories."

Rogers thanked Cuthbertson, who has served as the school's principal since Robinson suffered the aneurysm Jan. 25,

"This past semester has been hard and heartbreaking, but you stepped up to bring our school back together," Rogers said. "You inspire all of us, and work so, so hard. You make all of us feel loved and appreciated, and I am just so proud of you. Thank you so much."

Madison High School interim principal Rhonda Cuthbertson addresses the 2022 graduating class during the school's ceremony May 21.

Rogers also thanked Robinson, whom she said it was a "privilege and an honor" to know and spend time with.

"'Doc Rob' was so beloved that he touched the lives of everyone he knew, not just in our high school, but throughout all of Madison County," she said. "He was an inspiration because he taught all of us love. He brought everyone together."

Rogers closed her speech by reciting a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem, "What is Success."

"To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and
the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure
the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give of one's self;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and
sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you
have lived -
This is to have succeeded."

"I can't imagine Doc not being here, but I know that he's watching over all of us," Rogers said. "To (Cuthbertson), the administration and teachers, he would be so proud of all of you. And to the students, always remember how much Doc loved you."

Chloe Coffey, the 2022 class president, encouraged her fellow graduates to look toward their futures with excitement.

"Though we may not see it at the moment, high school is our comfort zone, and the world is our new adventure," Coffey said. "We may be a bit apprehensive to the change, but embrace it nonetheless. As we move through this new chapter in life, remember that change, while not always comfortable, can bring new perspectives and experiences."

Ashley Brown and Tiffany Garrett, the class's two salutatorians, reflected on the impact their time at Madison High has had in shaping them.

"The community of Madison High School has forever changed me into who I am, and who I will become," Brown said. "Every single person in this gym is going to change me. When I look around this gym, I see future teachers, nurses, Marines, doctors, parents and so many more occupations that are going to impact the world."

The legacy of David Robinson, the former Madison High School principal who suffered an aneurysm and died in January, was honored by students and teachers during the school's May 21 graduation ceremony.

Garrett recognized some of the most impactful people she met in her time at Madison High, including Doc Rob.

"Thank you for the encouragement you gave each and every one of us," Garrett said of the former principal. "To my class, I say this: our high school experience has not been an ideal, perfect world. We struggled with COVID, we suffered loss, senioritis, the late-night study sessions. If it were easy, everybody would do it. We made it. Today, we will walk on as graduates of Madison High School."

Class valedictorian Noah Olson spoke about the MHS community's resilience through grief and uncertainty.

"Even in our darkest times, students, teachers, faculty and others came together to support each and every one of us here," Olson said. "Today, we face the world head on. Today, we showed the world what we can do."

Robinson's wife, Wanda Robinson, joined Superintendent Will Hoffman and Cuthbertson in issuing diplomas to the graduates.

"Dr. Robinson and I spoke many times about growing up in this community, and I think you will be reminded as you leave here today that you've been given a great gift by growing up in Madison County," Hoffman said.

Wanda Robinson was the final speaker at the ceremony.

"I love you, and our family loves you," she said. "To our entire Madison County community: We could not have gotten through this tragedy without you. We can feel your prayers and we feel your thoughts. Madison County will forever be in our family's heart."

Robinson said it was "wonderful" to see the love and respect the students had for her late husband.

"Their speeches were so heartwarming and sincere," Robinson said. "It was a fitting tribute to a man who loved the entire MHS family with all his heart."

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: MHS 2022 graduates reflect on impact of 'Doc Rob' in grad ceremony