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McKenzie Graduates 108 in Sunday Commencement

Posted 5/29/19

McKENZIE (May 19) — Hundreds gathered at McKenzie High School Sunday afternoon to see 108 seniors reap the reward of years of hard work by receiving their diplomas.The Class of 2019 entered to …

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McKenzie Graduates 108 in Sunday Commencement


McKENZIE (May 19) — Hundreds gathered at McKenzie High School Sunday afternoon to see 108 seniors reap the reward of years of hard work by receiving their diplomas.

The Class of 2019 entered to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance,” then senior Holly Barker led the Pledge of Allegiance. Senior Sierra Keenan performed the National Anthem.

Class President Maggie Latimer welcomed her classmates and all of the guests to the commencement exercises. She began her remarks with many goodbyes, to “Mrs. Carol’s bathtubs... fourth grade play... awkward freshman self... card games in the library... dress code... and peace out, Mr. Watkins.”

She continued, “Well guys, this is it. The first day of the rest of our lives. As we’ve seen how fast four years can fly, we need to realize that 14 years will fly and 40 years fly too. So let us remember not to wish these years away waiting for the next chapter in our lives to begin. I hope that each of us actually live out our lives instead of just floating day by day.”

Latimer said, “Men, I hope you never become too prideful to take the path God has chosen for you, and women, please, please find your strength in the Lord and do not be a pushover or find your worth in the things others say about you. Be strong and remember, girl, you can become the CEO your parents always wanted you to marry!”

She concluded with hellos, to “freshmen orientation... scholarships... annoying roommates... first job... the real world... our future.”

Salutatorian John Putman then delivered his address, beginning, “We’re in the Endgame now,” comparing graduation to the new Avengers movie. “Behind us is the closed book of adolescence... The simplicity of youth has satisfied me well, but here lies the danger of complacency. A.W. Tozer once said, ‘Complacency is a deadly foe to all spiritual growth.’ I would add it is the foe to all worthwhile growth. There may be some of you in this audience before me who share my sentimental feelings about high school, and I say these next words to my self as much as you. It is well time to embark upon the horizon, to taste and see what the Lord is bound to bless us with in the future. The words of Christian musician Matthew West ring true in every age: ‘The end’s where the future begins.’”

He encouraged his fellow graduates to stay as connected as possible going forward.

Putman concluded, “I thank God for all of my peers before me today. I thank Him for my teachers, my mentors and my family, both of blood and of the Holy Spirit. May God bless you all in the name of His beloved Son. Thank you.”

Valedictorian Mallory Cole spoke next, thanking all of the parents and grandparents, the teachers and administrators and “every person who had some kind of positive impact on us throughout our time in school.”

She quoted Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed most by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work,” and added, “Now that we are leaving high school and hopefully moving on to bigger and better things, we will see many opportunities come and go. Some of these opportunities we should take and other we should let pass by. Don’t ever let an opportunity scare you off because it looks like hard work... Don’t dwell on the missed opportunities, and live regretting something you did not do. The past won’t change, but you can determine your future.”

Cole concluded, “I hope that I inspired at least one person in this room to keep working hard towards their goal... I’m going to end this how Ellen DeGeneres closes all of her shows, by saying, “Thank you and be kind to one another.”

Principal Tim Watkins then took the podium. He asked the parents and guardians of graduates to stand and be applauded for their dedication and sacrifices. He then recognized the many achievements of the Class of 2019. Of the 108 graduates, 53 were members of the Beta Club, 22 were distinguished scholars, 37 earned a 92 or above average or were at or above ACT benchmarks and 50 graduated with distinction.

Watkins announced that 65 graduates planned to attend a four-year college or university, eleven a two-year community college, 16 a technical school and 15 were already in the workforce. Two have enlisted in the military. Landon Johnson has enlisted in the U.S. Navy and Brock Minton in the U.S. Army. Minton was unable to attend commencement as he is already in service.

Watkins proudly added that the graduates had earned $2,585,566 in scholarships to 19 schools.

Diplomas were then awarded by Board of Education Chairman John Austin, MHS guidance counselor Sheila Ridley and Director of Schools Lynn Watkins. Watkins, Austin and school board members Greg Barker, Norman French and Jan Latimer had the privilege of presenting diplomas to their own children.

The new alumni and the audience then sang McKenzie’s Alma Mater, and the graduates threw their mortarboards proudly and exited to “Pomp and Circumstance.”

The top ten students were, in rank order, Valedictorian Mallory Grace Cole, Salutatorian John Tyler Putman, Ben Burns Austin, Macey Jenae Ognibene, Allison Camille Harvey, Bailey Hope Sawyers, Chase Domino Colotta, Haven Alexis Hargrove, Elizabeth Kate Oakley and Olivia Grace Wright.

Distinguished scholars were Ben Burns Austin, Luke Taylor Bennett, Caleigh Jo Britt, Mallory Grace Cole, Chase Domino Colotta, Gary Alexander Davis, Julie Ann French, Haven Alexis Hargrove, Allison Camille Harvey, Brandon Craig Hobson, Shaune Katheryne Holder, Zachary Fisher Laser, Henry Alberto Melendez, Matthew Alexander Myers, Elizabeth Kate Oakley, Macey Jenae Ognibene, Celeste Dee Phillips, John Tyler Putman, Bailey Hope Sawyers, Tyler Andrew Spivey, Jazmin Guadalupe Ventura and Olivia Grace Wright.

McKenzie High School Class of 2019 graduates were Brandon Lee Alexander, Kelton Chase Allen, Ben Burns Austin, Logan Cole Austin, Holly Grace Barker, Sean Bradley Beasley, Luke Taylor Bennett, Nicholas Javay Allen Bills, Emily Ann Bolin, Gage Alexander Brewer-Puckett, Caleigh Jo Britt, Jaidan Joseph Butler, Jacob Daniel Castleman, Hunter Jay Chantler, Alyssa Brianne Chesser, Edmario Lewis Cody, Julianna Elizabeth Cole, Mallory Grace Cole, Chase Domino Colotta, Adam Brandon Cooper, Amberleigh Elizabeth Cooper, Allison Claire Craddock, Bennett Chase Daffron, Lillian Frances Daffron, Gary Alexander Davis, Sara Michelle Deerman, Bryston Jaquan Diggs, Amber Elizabeth Eason, Zachary Allen Edge, La’Jada Khai-Sha Edmonson, Parker Robert William Fann, Julie Ann French, Ruby Garza, Ryan David Gibson, Dayana Morae Gilbert, Alivia Ann Green, Cianna Elegance Haney, Haven Alexis Hargrove, Allison Camille Harvey, Stephone Lamar Haynes, Brandon Craig Hobson, Shaune Katheryne Holder, Hannah Rhea Hones, Anaya Danielle Horton, Rabekka Morgan Houck, Richard Douglas Houseknecht, Caleb Rayne Huddleston, Gia Nicole Hughes, Peoni Shlay Humphreys, Sarah Parker Jackson, Landon Mitchell Johnson, Sierra Nicole Keenan, Annie Isabella King, Larson Rex King, Zachary Fisher Laser, Anna Margaret Latimer, Domenik Urie Leadbeater, Emma-Jean Katlyn Lesley, William Hayden Long, Brady Lee Cashion Marr, Emma Ray Martin, Makenzie Gabrielle Matthews, William Timothy McBride, Mi’Kayla Tiara McWherter-Gill, Henry Alberto Melendez, Brock Alan Minton, Breanna Nicole Moon, Matthew Alexander Myers, Marisa Lyn Nunnery, Elizabeth Kate Oakley, Macey Jenae Ognibene, Breanna Lee Olson, Beth Anna Ownby, Kailee Arizona Page, Natalie Lyn Parish, Ciria Perez, Celeste Dee Phillips, Lukas Lee Pinson, John Tyler Putman, Jesse Lynn Reed, Owen Vaughn Reynolds, Kayla Rodriguez, Bailey Hope Sawyers, Rusty James Sawyers, Andrew Bergen Seiber, Adriana Kasen Shafer, Harold T Smith, Tyler Andrew Spivey, Hunter Michael Stafford, Tayla Ann Stubbs, Kristen Deshay Taylor, Zaivion Sharod Teague, Zhiya Ameshel Teague, Tanner Mack Townes, Bobbie Rayann Traywick, Shelby Jade Tucker, Grayce Abbagale Turman, Dylan Christopher VanWetter, Jazmin Guadalupe Ventura, Shelby Leigh Autumn Warren, Murphy Malone Watkins, Allie Marie Watson, Madison Leigh Wilkes, Chloe Jane Williams, Jakob Dylan Winchester, Dashun Jasquez Woodson, Michael Anthony Wooley and Olivia Grace Wright.


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