May 22—VALDOSTA — Nearly 400 Valdosta High School seniors walked across the stage Friday, May 21, at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
It was a hard-fought year of balancing in-school and online classes, but it's still one they accomplished.
Olivia Grace Ellis, salutatorian, welcomed a crowd of more than 1,000 people — including faculty, staff and loved ones — who came to see their seniors off.
She said through quarantine, social distancing and the struggles faced throughout the 2020-21 school year, the Class of 2021 showed off its resiliency.
"I think I speak for everyone when I say that I am so proud of my class and indescribably excited to see what everyone will accomplish," Ellis said. "This incredible class is going to study everything from accounting to botany to business to neurology."
Ellis said more than anything, this time is a moment to celebrate.
Following a student performance of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," Valedictorian Morgan Elizabeth Wynn spoke in commemoration of her and her fellow seniors' time at VHS.
The last four year have affected who the students are now and will continue to affect who they become, she said, giving everyone memories they may forever recall.
"Not all of them will be pleasant but they'll definitely be noteworthy," Wynn said. "I'll remember staying up late stressing about a big biology test scheduled for the following day. I'm looking at you, Mrs. Plumly."
She'll remember the football games, cheering on the Wildcats that led them to victory so many times. She'll remember rushing to get a forgotten homework assignment done the period before it's due. She'll remember the dances, especially this year's prom thanks to Mrs. Hall.
Wynn said there's a lot to remember but there's nothing to remember more than what she and her fellow students have been told since middle school: exceed expectations and excel past standards set by predecessors.
"Even throughout high school, many teachers remarked on how they believed that our class, and our generation for that matter, would do great things and enact great change in our world," she said. "I have never believed in these statements more than I do at this very moment."
The Class of 2021 is the future and it has the potential to make the world brighter than it ever has been before, Wynn said.
After a lengthy delivery of diplomas to each senior, Valdosta City Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Cason told each of them to move their tassels from right to left.
In that, he officially pronounced them graduates.