May 23—HAHIRA — Forty-one seniors begin their journey after receiving their high school diplomas.
The ceremony for Valwood School's 53rd graduating class took place Friday, May 19, at Perimeter Road Baptist Church.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance and opening remarks, the Jefferson Cups were presented to 12 graduates who have attended Valwood their entire school career, the majority since pre-kindergarten.
The Emily Anderson Scholarship was presented to William Hayward Perry. The Emily Anderson Scholarship is a scholarship established, in perpetuity, in honor of Emily Anderson, former Valwood teacher, middle school dean and director.
Each year, the Anderson Scholarship is awarded to a student who personifies her qualities of loyalty, integrity, scholarship and hard work.
John L. Davis Sr., Valwood headmaster, presented the Headmaster's Award to Justin Henderson, teacher and coach. The Headmaster's Award is presented to a faculty member who exemplifies visionary leadership, outstanding instruction, dedication to service and genuine love for our students and school.
The quartet of Carolyn Griner, Charlotte Holloway, Annabel Musgrove, Kennedy Paylo and Elle Scruggs performed "A Million Dreams" by Ben J. Pasek and Justin Paul and was followed by the co-valedictorian addresses.
Co-Valedictorian Bennett Alvarado, said, "Our 'Vamily' has been become so strong and connected that it will be hard to separate us even after we walk across the stage. Even after the good times, the tough times, but more importantly, the friendship, I thank you. I remember thinking about how far away 2023 was in lower school but today is that day. The concept of graduating was so foreign that I never imagined what it would feel like to be done; however, the only thing that is done is this chapter of our lives. The concept of being done does not apply to what comes next, which will forever shape our lives.
"All of you have a story to tell, which will be edited and rewritten but the one chapter that will not change is the one titled Valwood School. While these memories may seem small now ... you will be able to live those memories out. Just like a shift in a book from chapter to chapter, our lives will change in how we live, our lives will change not just by what we are doing but how we are doing it. This class can achieve exactly what we want. I cannot wait to see what God has planned for us all, leading to that future phone call asking 'how is life,' how we live our lives between here and now will determine how we answer that question."
Co-Valedictorian Pearce Persaud reminisced with his classmates and shared memories of triumph, failure and friendship among the Class of 2023.
"We did it," he said. "We experienced numerous highs and lows throughout our time together but amidst it all we have formed unforgettable friendships. While forming friendships that will last a lifetime, we have also bonded with some incredible teachers along the way. As we reflect on our time here at Valwood, it becomes apparent that it was not just about the academic lessons, it was about the life lessons that we gained from our teachers and each other.
"We learned about resilience, the power of collaboration and team work, and the value of kindness and compassion. As we prepare to embark on our next journey, let us carry the lessons learned and memories created with us to the unknown to take on the new challenges with the same enthusiasm as we did at Valwood."
Alvarado and Persaud thanked teachers for building relationships and teaching lessons to extend beyond the classroom, family and friends for unwavering support and love.
Diplomas were awarded by Davis, Henderson and Vallye Blanton.
Scott Giddens gave the benediction prior to the Class of 2023 recessional.
Valwood School is an independent college preparatory school, enrolling students pre- kindergarten through 12th grade. The academic program is based on the teaching and mastery of the foundational skills necessary for academic and personal success in college, according to the school.
Valwood Class of 2023 includes Bennett Joseph Alvarado, Audrey Pearl Ambron, Cole Austin Belue, Connor Clayton Bland, Graceigh Elizabeth Booth, Brayden Smith Bradshaw, Anthony Wayne Brown, Brooks Steven Browning, Coleman Thomas Call, Charis Magdalene Eager, Andee Marilyn Fafard, Arianna Marie Foster, Jacoba Sharie Foster, Kevin Scott Giddens, Charles Knox Hamsley, Ean Lee Henry, Emory Ross Hogan, Karli Abigail Jarvis, Natalie Emma Johnson, William Worth Kimbro, Isabella Grace McMurray, Anabelle Grace Melendez, Catrion Kayleigh Marie Merchant, Madison Nicole Miller, Catriona Savannah Moore, Kaytibeth Eileen Music, Kolby Tyler Osha, Heather Olivia Parr, Ashok Bipin Patel, Bowen Lee Patrick, Elijah Alexander Pay, William Hayward Perry, Pearce Andrew Persaud, Ryan Christopher Rackley, Laney Brooklynn Rice, Mary Elizabeth Schroer, Madison Kathryn Shapiro, Robert Rouse Vallotton, Ranada Nicole Vinson, Madison Grace Waters and Coleman Alexander Yates.