In this day of staying apart, the Warren County High School Class of 2020 came together one last time Friday night at Nunley Stadium.
A class of 420 seniors walked the stage to receive their high school diplomas in front of a socially distanced crowd.
“So here we are 6 feet apart graduating high school,” said valedictorian Emme Smith in her keynote speech.
Added WCHS executive principal Clark George, “Tonight you join a distinguished group of individuals as Warren County alumni.”
The event was more subdued than previous graduation ceremonies and free of the traditional blow-up objects which traditionally get batted around by graduates. But the night was still filled with emotional moments and final farewells.
It was the last official duty for Bobby Cox as outgoing director of schools. He resigned after eight years at the helm of the Warren County School System.
“The first thing we need to say is we made it,” said Cox, alluding to the challenges of a virus-shortened year.
A prerecorded message from Gov. Bill Lee was played for the crowd.
Gov. Lee told graduates, “You deserve to embrace this moment and we embrace it with you.”
In delivering her valedictorian address, Smith said she set her goal to graduate first in her class as a freshman when she learned the valedictorian gets to wear a gold gown. “That’s when I thought I should go for it,” Smith said.
She added, “This does not mean I’m smarter than you. It means by setting goals you can achieve them. If you set your goals high enough, everything else will fall into place.”
Class salutatorian Mary Humphrey said she will miss “Ice Ice Bobby” videos announcing snow days, a shout-out to Bobby Cox for his humorous snow day videos. She echoed Smith’s comments about working toward goals and closed with an Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Student body president Hannah Lee and senior class president Julya West gave a combined speech recapping highlights of the four years the class of 2020 spent at WCHS.
They noted their class is the reason no one can camp out for parking passes anymore and they remembered getting to miss a day of school during their sophomore year to watch the eclipse.
“Despite missing the last two months, we had nearly four years to make memories,” said West.
Three seniors were not in attendance because they have already begun their military service. Rhett Bundy, Owen Mills and Matthew O’Bryan received a loud round of applause from the crowd as their names were announced.