By Meg Dickens
Johnson County’s Class of 2021 said its final goodbyes in the Paul H. McEwen Stadium on Saturday, May 22. As the seniors completed this milestone, students and officials looked back over the unusual year, ends, and new beginnings. Johnson County High School Principal Leon Henley addressed the graduating seniors before they took the stage and officially ended their journey at JCHS.
“I’ve talked with many of you over the last several weeks about your plans and aspirations for the future and your feelings leading up to graduation,” said Henley. “I received a response from many of you that I would like to address; “I can’t believe it’s over. I can’t believe this is the end.” Seniors, I’m here to tell you this is not the end. It is just the beginning of the rest of your lives, and I’m confident, and I believe that you are prepared to live your best life. Seniors, I want you to know that life is not always easy. Life will deal you unexpected curves, and just like the area we live, contains many peaks and valleys.”
This year’s seniors, and students in general, had an unusual year. The COVID-19 pandemic forced students nationwide to turn to virtual education. Henley explained that these circumstances helped shape students and will continue to do so. Graduation is just one example. Because of COVID-19 precautions, the ceremony was on the football field instead of its usual place in the JCHS gym.
Johnson County is one of a select few that returned to in-person learning during the school year. In honor of the unusual circumstances, the Johnson County Commission signed a resolution recognizing the JCHS Class of 2021’s “determination, grit, and unwavering resolve to complete their diplomas under a difficult and challenging time.”
“Life is not always positive or happy,” said JCHS Class of 2021 Valedictorian and Tennessee Scholar Issac Brown. “ In fact, life is hard, but it is the willingness to overcome life’s hardships that pushes us to succeed. We have learned that perseverance is the key to a content and a happy life. If people are willing to push through adversity until the end, then they have proven to themselves that they have the drive to succeed. Folks, we all have perseverance. From here forward, the future is what we decide to make it.”
Graduation is a mix of emotions. On a sad note, this year officials took a moment to acknowledge two people who could not attend. Martina Hope, a long-time school employee, passed away earlier this year, and graduating senior Christian Johnson had an accident a few days prior, which left him on life support. At this time, there is no news on his condition.
Anyone who would like to view the JCHS Class of 2021 graduation can watch the archived live stream online at the Johnson County Schools TN Video YouTube channel. Congratulations to the graduating class and best of luck in your future endeavors.