May 27—OXFORD — The Oxford High School Class of 2022 was rewarded for successfully completing their 13 years of public schooling as a break in the weather allowed that celebration to be held on their "field of dreams."
Tradition held Thursday night as the 250-plus graduates, crowned with their mortar boards and their robes of distinction, walked onto Lamar Field in front of friends and family and received their diplomas ready to launch out into life furthering their studies or hitting the ground running with new careers.
Many students had flooded Tuesday night's city council meeting upset plans had been made to hold the ceremonies in the school's Sports Arena.
"I was very impressed with how our students spoke with respect and passion about their concerns at that meeting," School Superintendent Dr. Shannon Stanley told The Anniston Star. "This is their graduation after all and they had every right to make their concerns heard and they were. We did everything we could do to make it happen for them and our prayers were answered."
Just as the class had persevered to get the celebration they wanted, the theme of the three students who spoke focused on that same perseverance their class showed as they found success through uncertain and extraordinary circumstances.
Cloie Dale, distinguished scholar of the Academy of Health Science, earned the honor of valedictorian and gave the keynote address.
"Tonight is a huge milestone and accomplishment for all of us," Dale said. "Our graduating class was presented with circumstances no one could have predicted that forced us to take control of our own education to succeed. That's exactly what we did."
Salutatorian Emily Parrish, also a distinguished scholar of the Academy of Health Science, spoke of discovering getting through troubling times can require acknowledging the need for help.
"We have all at some point over the past four years had to reach out and ask for help," Parrish said. "Not in weakness, but in rather recognizing that having the strength to build a strong foundation takes support. We have all had our battles to face in order to be where we are."
Class historian Anna Abernathy, another distinguished scholar of the Academy of Health Science, may have best summed up the experiences of the Class of 2022.
"COVID hit, and I don't think there is another group of kids who could have handled that as well as we did," Abernathy said. "I'm not trying to boast, but we finally had our licenses and then we could not go anywhere. We took the hits as they came and worked through them as eloquently as a group of 16 and 17 year olds could.
"We struggled. We failed. We pushed, kept pushing, overcame and triumphed," she said.
See The Anniston Star's slideshow on the graduation at: https://www.annistonstar.com/slideshows/photos-oxford-high-school-class-of-2022-commencement-ceremony/collection_0f3c0e28-dd76-11ec-b05d-bf8e8f25d105.html