MERCERVILLE — A small but spirited 2014 class graduated under blue skies Saturday afternoon during a ceremony held at South Gallia High School’s new football stadium.
The 38 students graduating in the class of 2014 entered the stadium filled with their friends and family on Saturday before an introduction was given by school principal Scot West.
This year’s co-valedictorians, Bailie Corbin and Gus Slone, addressed their fellow graduates, taking the time to thank not only their friends and family for their support throughout their academic careers thus far, but also the extended community.
Corbin thanked Mercerville Baptist Church and the surrounding community for allowing her to have a faith-based experience at South Gallia, while also thanking her teachers, fellow classmates and family.
She also told her classmates to rely on their faith in the coming years as they venture into adulthood and begin to make the decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.
“It’s finally time for us to venture out on our own. It’s kind of a scary thing if you think about it, because for the first time in our lives we will be making our own decisions and truly caring for ourselves. But I am confident that we will make it if we have one thing. This one thing holds the key to success and happiness in our future. This one thing is faith,” she told her classmates.
Corbin quoted a verse from Hebrews that states that faith “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
“We’re facing one of the biggest challenges and decisions of our lives as we speak. We now have to figure out what we want to do with our lives. It is a very overwhelming decision and many of us still do not know what the right choice is. The best way to figure it out is to put our faith in God,” she said. “Unfortunately, life will never be easy, but, with faith, it is possible.”
Fellow valedictorian Gus Slone also spoke at length of his gratitude for the people in his life who helped shape him, thanking not only his teachers and friends, but also his “huge” family and his two best friends — his mom and dad.
“The true definition of selflessness is putting someone else’s wants and needs before your own and my parents exemplify this trait as much as any other person I’ve every met,” he said. “My parents have always been tough on me and have expected a lot from me, but I know it’s because they care, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Slone said the memories he has made during his time in Mercerville and of the Rebel spirit that has been instilled in his entire class during their high school careers.
“I know that there may only be 38 of us and we’re the smallest class in South Gallia history, but I know that we have definitely made memories that will last us a lifetime,” he said. “I love this little school with all of my heart and it will always feel like home to me. What this school may lack in numbers, it makes up for in heart.”
Class salutatorian Caitlin Roach also had some sage words of advice for the class of 2014, encouraging them to be independent in their journey through life and to turn away from naysayers who may try to discourage them.
“Do what makes you happy. Do not let yourself be miserable in any aspect of your life,” she said. “It’s truly your life, live it how you want to live it. Marry the person you want to marry. Work the job you want to work. Don’t ever let anyone bring you down or make you feel worthless. People are always going to be looking for someone to make fun of, and, the fact is, sooner or later everyone gets their turn at being talked about. Unfortunately in life, not everyone is going to like you. It’s just how it is.”
While telling her classmates to hold true to themselves, Roach told her fellow Rebels to hold compassion for all people as “we’re all human and we’re all in this together.”
“Offer to others as much as you want offered in return to you,” she said. “I’ve found in this life there is no such thing as being too kind to anyone. So, smile and laugh as much as possible. Make yourself happy. This is truly your one shot.”
Gallia County Local Schools Superintendent Jude Meyers, the guest speaker at Saturday’s commencement, spoke of not only how impressed he has been with the student body in Gallia County since beginning the job of superintendent, but also, more specifically, his pride in the South Gallia Rebels as they dominated this year’s Beta Convention, the History Day program, won awards at the academic festival and have continued to achieve athletically.
“I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen in the Gallia County schools, and particularly South Gallia,” Meyers said to applause. “You’re a very excellent class. I’ve seen excellent things in the short time I’ve been here. I wish you nothing but the best.”
The superintendent further gave the class of 2014 one more homework assignment before they depart from South Gallia.
“This is a special weekend where we honor all of the veterans that have served our country, but, already, as our speakers have indicated, you thank people who help bring you here today,” Meyers said. “So, your last homework assignment — whether it be putting in your phone today, in your calendar, making a mental note — sometime this weekend, I want you to take the opportunity to thank someone face-to-face, eye-to-eye that helped get you to where you are today.”
Following the remarks from the guest speaker, South Gallia High School Guidance Counselor Michelle Riffe read the list of awards and scholarship that have been given to the class of 2014 prior to the presentation of diplomas — scholarships that totalled $161,620.
Diplomas were presented by the Gallia County Board of Education and Class President Heather Williams then lead the class in the changing of the tassels.
Those students receiving an honors diploma were: Bailie Corbin, Trevor “Gus” Slone, Cortney Beaver, Lesley Small. Those students representing the top 10 percent of the class were: Bailie Corbin, Gus Slone, Caitlin Roach and Cortney Beaver.
The following is a list of the students graduating in the South Gallia High School class of 2014 as they appear in the commencement program:
Brynn Danae Adams, Destiny Lachay Baker, Cortney Dawn Beaver, Dylan Lee Birtcher, Timothy Shane Brumfield II, Hannah Michelle Bryan, Jared Alexander Calhoun, Lura Hattie Calhoun, Seth Jacob Carpenter, Bailie Jo Corbin, Tabitha Whitney Estep, Michael David Florence Jr., Phillip Eli Fraley, Alicia Lynn Hornsby, Alexus Marie Harlow, Rachel Faith Johnson, Christopher Matthew Johnston, Tyler Glen Massie, Courtney Michelle Miller, Nadine Marie Mooney, Jarred Lee Northup, Michael Cody O’Neal, Caleb Alexander Pearson, Mika Tye Rich, Caitlin Shawn Roach, Katelyn Eleine Tennessee Roach-Fisher, Ryan Dale Ross, Krystal Lynn Seagraves, Linda Louella Kay-Ann Sheets, Trevor Augustus Slone, Lesley Kay Small, Ethan Charles Spurlock, Dana Marie Stapleton, Ethan Edward Swain, Michael Allen Wheeler II, Jacob Sean White, Heather Leann Williams and Alexis Suzanne Williamson.