McKenzie Graduates 107 During Sunday Ceremony
McKENZIE (May 13) — McKe nzie High School gymnasium was a packed house as family and friends watched 106 McKenzie seniors walk across the stage to end their time at McKenzie High School. One graduate, Sarah Prestwood was at Basic Training for the U.S. Army National Guard and was unable to attend.
The 1.25-hour celebration was filled with references to God by the three student speakers, and a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Nathan Eaton. Principal Tim Watkins also prayed for the students prior to the students entering the gymnasium.
Class President Hannah Bilger said McKenzie High School is a place to grow as individuals, where the teachers and coaches push students to be their best. MHS is a place where champions are made. She told her fellow graduates, “God will always be there for you.”
She said McKenzie and its high school is one town, one school, one family.
Luke Spivey, salutatorian, had a simple, three-step message for his fellow graduates. He advised them as follows: “You will get what you ask for; you will get what you work for; you will get what you pray for. When in doubt, pray it out and to ask for help when you need it.
In closing, Spivey said, “I could not ask for a better group of people to grow up with.”
Anders Rider, valedictorian, asked his fellow graduates to honor the mothers on this mother’s day. He also asked his fellow graduates to offer applause to the faculty and staff of the school and their families for their support.
Rider said it took the village to help these students grow. He told the story of his childhood, when he was diagnosed with meningitis and told he might suffer physical limitations. He overcame those limitations. He said his fellow students that God has a plan for them.
The valedictorian advised his fellow graduates to be accountable for their actions, be positive, and strive to be a giver. He challenged them to bring value to their city.
Rider asked his fellow graduates if any had ever eaten his mother’s chocolate chip cookies. He then asked graduates to reach under their chair and find one of his mother’s chocolate chip cookies. Each graduate pulled a cookie from underneath their seat. Rider said look at the cookie, the chocolate chip is an integral part of the cookie, it is mixed in, but it is not blended in. He challenged his fellow graduates to be distinctive and to be like the chocolate chip.
MHS Principal Tim Watkins said the class was the 94th graduating class from McKenzie Special School District and the 109th from the McKenzie community.
In total, students earned $3,332,980 in scholarships from 17 universities and technology schools.
One distinction of this class is the five sets of twin siblings who graduated.
As each student crossed the stage, Sheila Ridley, school counselor, announced each name, and each student was greeted by Superintendent Lynn Watkins and Principal Tim Watkins. Each graduate received his or her diploma from John Austin, chairman of the school board. Two students, Anders Rider and Jacey Davis, received their diplomas from their father, Lance Rider and Jon Davis, respectively. Lance and Jon also serve on the school board.
The top ten students are as follows (in order): Anders Rider, Luke Spivey, Calista Yobloski, Natalia Pomphrey, Bridget Bradberry, Connor McReynolds, Devyn Smiley, Emma Renfro, Shelby Butler, and Jacey Davis.
Distinguished Scholars — Drew Russell Basford, Zaria D’Ebony Bowden, Bridget Rose Bradberry, Abbagail Marie Brewer, Shelby Michelle Butler, Jacey Renee Davis, Spencer Raymond Fornera, Alexis Danielle Goodman, Connor William McReynolds, Jacob Highfil Pinson, Natalia Marie Pomphrey, Emma Carol Renfro, Anders Hallman Rider, Devyn Lee Smiley, Austin Luke Spivey, Adam Thomas Taylor, Aiden Christopher Winstead, Calista Faye Yoblonski, Graduates include: Drew Russell Basford, Blake William Beasley, Jesse David Bell, Tyler Jordan Berryman, Shane Andrew Betterman, Hannah Elizabeth Bilger, Hayley Nicole Bostwick, Zaria D’Ebony Bowden, Bridget Rose Bradberry, Abbagail Marie Brewer, Demetrius Marcus Browning, Abby Michelle Burnine, Shelby Michelle Butler, Joshawa No’el Cannon, Damian Armand Carter, Matthew Shawn Carter, Tyler Lynn Chandler, Jonnie Raylee Chesser, Justin Thomas Christian, Cassidy Nicole Clark, Ericka Ann Coleman, Jacey Renee Davis, Sydney Lynn Davis, Tyler Everett Davis, Chloe Michelle Dickson, DeAaron Jamar Diggs, Timothy Preston Dillon, Madison Kennedy Dreaden, Nathan William Eaton, Devon Scott Elliott, Spencer Raymond Fornera, Sean Austin Foster, Alyssa Lee Gentry, MaKenna Rae Gibson, Austin Scott Gierhart, Kaytlynn Dannyelle Gentile, Alexis Danielle Goodman, Dylan Wayne Hart, Taylor Lynn Hathaway, Larenzo Alize Haynes, Brandon Charles Hill, Elijah Alexander Horton, Derrick Antwon Howard, Jr., Blake Alexander Hugueley, Jon-Austin Devon Hugueley, Will Andrew Jackson, Zachary David Jarrett, Hassan De’von Johnson, Tariq Hunter Jones, William Garrett Jones, Joseph Brooks Keenan, Madison Rose Langevine, Ryan Christopher Lesley, Aaron Dale Lindsey, Emily Nicole Lunn, Dalton Wyatt Mann, James Donovan Marlow, Shane Jarrett Matheny, Jacob Dylan Matlock, Dylan Matthew McCaig, Savannah Maria Eileen McMullen, Connor William McReynolds, John Paul Mendez-Garcia, Nicole Raye Mercer, Keegan Daniel Millsap, Bailey Faith Nelson, Tiffany Marie Nolin, Zachary Ryan Norman, Matthew Isaiah Nutting, Alayna Marie Parrish, Martin Raul Perez, Bryce Wood Phillips, Jacob Highfil Pinson, Katarina Elise Pomphrey, Natalia Marie Pomphrey, Sarah Rishelle-Jade Prestwood, Cameron Drake Rawls, Emma Carol Renfro, Anders Hallman Rider, Yhania Patience Roberts, Alexander Elston Rummage, Exseyviar Eugene Rutherford, Cameron Andrew Saylor, Devyn Lee Smiley, Alexander John Smith, Austin Luke Spivey, Colby Garrett Swafford, Terry Ethan Swafford, Adam Thomas Taylor, Carolyn Veronica Varallo, Braulio Vega, Eduardo Vega, Lucas Perry Waddell, Tyreec Emmanuel Warren, Audrie Nichole Washburn, Victoria Leigh Watkins, Zareya Venae Webber, Colton Paul White, Natalie Rose Whitlow, Tierra Renee Whitsell, Karrington Danielle Williams, Aidan Christopher Winstead, Calista Faye Yoblonski, Grace Jiamin Zheng.
Photos by Joel Washburn/The Banner