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28 graduate in modified ceremony at NHS

By Staff, 07/10/20 9:57 AM

ROSSTON – It was a night of celebration for the 28 seniors of Nevada High School Thursday as they were able to graduate after a two-month delay.

The gym wasn’t as packed as it normally is for graduations, but this was due to the Nevada School District enforcing social distancing and requiring everyone there to wear a mask throughout the ceremony. In addition, everyone entering the building had their temperature taken.

The bleachers had a row separating people, though all family members could sit together. Those who weren’t related had to leave two seats between themselves and the person next to them. No one complained as it was a celebration of the 28 young men and women getting their high school diplomas and taking the next step in their lives.

Nevada Principal Jason Arrington welcomed everyone, saying this was a special time and place. He told those in the audience he appreciated them being there to recognize the accomplishments of the seniors. “This class may be the only class who’s senior  year lasted 27 weeks,” he said. “We’re proud to offer this ceremony, though with some limitations.”

Normally, he said, the district honors those who’ve served it over the years with a separate celebration, but this wasn’t possible this year. He recognized Milton Loe, who’s retiring. Loe has been with the district since its inception as the agriculture teacher. Arrington  said Loe is a trusted advisor and well respected in the state’s agriculture community, who had a positive impact on an untold number of students at Nevada.

Taebriunna Bartee presented the first part of the honor’s address, saying the class has many memories, but she never thought she’d be at NHS as she expected to finish her prep-school career at Stephens. “The time I’ve spent here has been great,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of people and had a lot of fun. The end of the year didn’t go as planned and a lot was put on hold – like graduation. It’s unfair, but something we’ve learned from.”

Bartee said the class accomplished quite a bit in spite of the pandemic, and still has a lot of goals to accomplish.

Ashante Turner followed saying this is a special group graduating, but now it’s over. “It’s important to remember the times that made us laugh, not cry,” she said, “and cherish the people there.”

The teacher appreciation was given by Ashlynn Hart and Karlie Burke. Hart began saying she’s had some amazing teachers and is the daughter  of one. She talked about how teachers spend their days with students and work at home after school’s over, getting ready for the next day and getting papers and tests graded. “Being the daughter of a teacher I understand the time and effort they put into the job,” she said. “During the pandemic they made sure we had what we needed.”

Hart said teachers play an important role in students’ lives, passing on knowledge they need to know, passing on values needed for later in life and helping shape the personalities of the students. “As we start this journey, let’s not forget those who have had an impact on us. I’m glad to call all of you classmates.”

Burke said she couldn’t express her thanks for what the teachers did for them over the years, how they missed lunches and took time to make sure the students were being taught. “These are memories we’ll share forever,” she said.

The teachers, she added, came to school during the pandemic and worked to make sure students were given what they needed. “The world doesn’t give enough credit to educators.” Burke continued, saying teaching isn’t something just anyone can do or handle.

Aaliyah Grant provided the parent appreciation, saying their parents have stood behind them all the way, sometimes punishing them, but molding them into who they are today. “We owe all our success to them. Without their love and support we wouldn’t have made it here today. We appreciate all you do.”

Bryson Rhodes gave the class farewell, saying the class accomplished a lot and was always competing. This, he said, is why the class will accomplish great things. “We won’t give up till we get what we want. We need to carry this with us in whatever the next step we take is. I have no doubt we’ll be successful in life.”

Superintendent Rick McAfee provided the administrative address. He said this class has accomplished a lot considering what it’s gone through. “I didn’t know if they had one more night in them,” he said, “but this is the Blue Jay nation and we’re a family. We stand together and go forth.”

He thanked the families for allowing Nevada to educate their children over the last 13 years,  adding the students have given them many smiles and tears. These students, he continued, show his life has purpose as he can make a difference by helping educate them. “They gave so much back and never quit. They kept stepping forward and the virus didn’t slow them down. They’re to be commended. I’m proud of what they accomplished and of the young men and women they’ve become.”

He said the Class of 2020 has an infectious smile that gives others courage and they rely on one another. “They can do anything.

“We had to fight to hold graduation,” he added. “Thank you for wearing masks and spacing yourselves out.” He reminded the families there was to be no gathering outside after the ceremony ended, though this was ignored once everyone was outside. Deputies with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office were on hand to help keep order and make sure people didn’t mill around.

“This is a special night,” McAfee said concluding his address, “class, you did it.”