By Rebecca Herman
On May 14, the Johnson County High School class of 2016 walked across the stage for the last time as students. These students have spent the last 12 years growing as individuals and expanding their knowledge in order to prepare themselves for the next chapter in life. This year’s class had 153 graduating, 12 of whom have earned the title of valedictorian.
The ceremony began with the JCHS Band playing Pomp and Circumstance as the JCHS Class of 2016 entered the gymnasium. Then all stood as The Star Spangled Banner was played and the Pledge to the Flag was recited, led by Student School Board Representative, Will Sutherland.
Lisa Arnold, principal of JCHS, recognized the guests on stage which included Johnson County School Board members Mike Payne, Kenneth Gregg, Howard Carlton, and Chairman Kevin Long; Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mischelle Simcox; and Kathy McCulloch, the senior announcer; Mrs. Galyon, assistant principal; and Herbie Adams, CTE Director. Arnold congratulated the senior class on their hard work that brought them to this day.
“In life we do things. Some we wish we had never done,” Arnold said. “Some we wish we could replay a million times in our heads. But they all make us who we are, and in the end they shape every detail about us. If we were to reverse any of them we wouldn’t be the person we are. So just live. Make mistakes. Have wonderful memories. But never ever second guess who you are, where you have been, and most importantly where it is you’re going.”
Next, Maggie Aldridge, junior, and her brother Caleb, alumni of JCHS, performed two songs in dedication to the class of 2016. The first song, The Time of Our Lives, was a sad but hopeful song that seemed to touch many of the seniors as the song encouraged them to remember the good times, but to not let the past hold them back. The second song, Billy Joel’s Vienna was beautifully played and performed. In this song, Joel’s lyrics express the need to slow down in life and enjoy the present, not to be overly ambitious, and “take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while.”
Since this year’s class had 12 valedictorians, the group chose two to speak on behalf of the whole. The first valedictorian to speak was Kassidy Foley. Foley reminisced about looking through old yearbooks and not realizing how much each of her classmates had changed over the years and how when they began as freshmen, they were so scared of the “scary seniors.”
Foley then said, “We won’t realize the major changes that we will be undergoing after we leave high school.”
Because of these soon-to-happen changes, Foley wanted to leave her classmates with some encouraging words. The first was that she hoped each student would be “content with who we are.” The second encouragement is that the seniors will not forget the life lessons each had learned up to this point, and thirdly to not forget the ones who taught those life lessons. Finally, Foley wanted her classmates to listen to God and follow His will for their lives.
The second to speak was Aaron Steele who began by explaining that through the past four years, the class has grown “both physically and mentally and hopefully leaving our mark in a positive way.” Steele said he wanted to “thank God for helping me get through all of life…I would like to thank Him for giving me strength, especially the strength to stay awake during all of Mr. Kittle’s many, many tedious lectures, no matter how tired I was or how long he rambled.”
He then thanked his parents for showing unconditional love and for pushing him to do his best. Steele then thanked his teachers for “putting up with hundreds of delinquents, and receiving so little in return.”
He congratulated his class and wished them the best in whatever they decide to do after graduating and encouraged them to “go beyond where you’re comfortable…it is up to us to live up to the legacy left for us, and to leave a mark that is worthy of our children and of future generations.”
Dr. Simcox began the Presentation of Diplomas by quoting Henry David Thoreau, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
Once the seniors received their diplomas, they stood together for the last time and turned their tassels at the direction of senior Dylan Nichols. The class then left the gymnasium to head to the commons area where their families and friends met them with tears of joy.
This week’s print version of The Tomahawk contains individual gap and gown portraits of the JCHS graduating class of 2016 as well as congratulations from area businesses, organizations and individuals. Pick up your copy today!