BIDWELL — River Valley High School graduating seniors said their final goodbyes to their second home Friday evening and stepped away with heads held high for the future and with the lessons and love of their friends, family and teachers.
The River Valley Band Ensemble led the traditional song of “Pomp and Circumstance” as seniors walked in single file. The River Valley Phoenix Show Choir led the National Anthem.
Salutatorian Devan McGhee gave welcoming comments after some announcements were made by RVHS Principal Dr. Timothy Edwards.
“I have a letter, just like the rest of my classmates do, that we wrote during sophomore year,” said McGhee. “What was in the letter were our experiences up to that point in our high school career. This was an assignment that we had to do at the end of the school year and our teacher…held onto the letter until just three days ago. As my fellow classmates know, the letters were wrought with more wisdom than the Book of Proverbs…Here it is. I wrote it ‘Face it, you need to change.’ It’s pretty rough, isn’t it? When I opened this letter three days ago, I had to laugh. It took me back to where I was two years ago. I recognized that I wanted to change. I wanted to better myself, build strong friendships and take risks. Now, I look around and realize that not only that I have changed, but many of us have as well.”
McGhee said the exercise, as well as his time in school, helped him realize that life was about change and he encouraged his classmates to keep changing and pushing themselves for the better.
Edwards then introduced honored guests, including faculty, administration and members of the Gallia County Local Schools Board of Education. Over the course of the event, he would stress the importance of the support given by teachers, parents, family and friends and how they had affected the lives of youth. He also said students should be proud of their hard work and look forward to impacting the future positively.
“I think all you have to do is look out in front of you and you can see how many people are here tonight to celebrate you,” said Gallia County Local Schools Superintendent Jude Meyers. “My message is simple. Thank somebody that helped you get to this point today. Thank a parent. Thank a grandparent. Thank a relative…Don’t forget as you move through life, somebody helped you get to where you are today. On behalf of Gallia County Local Schools, we want to congratulate the Class of 2018. You’ve been an outstanding class and we wish you the best.”
“Around seven years ago, I was where you all are now, attending my brother’s graduation,” said Co-Valedictorian Isabella Mershon. “I was sitting next to my dad and listening to their valedictorian. After my dad explained to me what a valedictorian was, I decided that was what I wanted to be. From that moment, I have strived and worked hard to represent my class. I have learned that no dream is too big to accomplish with enough hard work and determination.”
Mershon thanked family and friends for their support.
“Class of 2018, you will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Mershon. “We may be done with high school, but I will always remember the moment we shared.”
Phoenix Show Choir led a rendition of “I’ll Always Remember You.”
“If this message can help just one person who hears it, then it will be well worth it,” said Co-Valedictorian Sarah Moffett. “I would like to present to my classmates the thought that we are ready to enter society as independent adults. The choices that we are now faced with will most likely be the biggest choices of our lives so far. They may be the ones that affect and determine our lives the most. It is easy to get wrapped around worldly status, especially in a world that’s based on success, power and financial gain. It is up to us to question in whose eyes our actions will be seen as accomplished. It is also comforting to know that God has a unique and perfect plan for each one of us. There will be times where we feel lost and confused. Know that you are not alone.”
Cynthia Graham and Catherine Greenleaf led the faculty address and told students that some of the most important lessons they could walk away with in life were that they had one name and integrity should be attached to it. Working honestly and cultivating a good reputation as an honorable individual was worth more than anything that could be bought in life. They noted the current graduating class was the 25th such class after the integration of area high schools to form River Valley High School and lauded the coordination and work of students from different areas integrating for the better of tomorrow.
Edwards recognized honor students. Phoenix Show Choir led a rendition of “Homeward Bound.” Diplomas were then presented. Class of 2018 President Jenna Burke presented the closing remarks for students.
“When we started high school just four short years ago, but for a lot of us, our journey as the Class of 2018 started when we were much younger,” said Burke. “Many of us have been together since day one, starting in kindergarten. It is there where we made our first best friends. We taught each other to share, to color inside the lines and how to take turns. Little did we know that these best friends would still be our friends 12 years later…Sixth grade was a very important year. That was the year that we met the rest of our class. Combining schools proved to teach us many life lessons. We had to learn things, like how to make new friends…and become a single Raider family which is exactly what we did…So while becoming a class to work together to better ourselves and our school, we have each found our passion that drives us.”
RVHS’ Graduating Class of 2018 is as follows:
Nathaniel Royce Abbott, Ryanna Lynn Adkins, Cordell David Anderson, Jillian Capri Anderson, Benjamin Colt Arrowood, Harlei Michelle Lynn Baird, Kenzie Layne Baker, William Austin Baker, Dustin Layne Barber, Kassie Nicole Bates, Alyssa Mae Bennett, Destiny Kaylynn Blanton, Wyatt Cameron Bragg, Sophia Caroline Branham, Bret Aloysius Breer, Alex Ryan Brown, Devan Alexander Brown, Patrick Allen Brown, Jenna Elizabeth Burke, Hailey Rochelle Burns, Briana Marie Cain, Travis Joseph Carpenter, Kaylee Grace Carter, Trey T. Carter, Brooklyn Marie Cathel, Kyle Matthew Coen, Clarissa Ruth Coldren, Kenneth David Collins, Jr., Lee Jay Combs, Hunter Aaron Coon, Hayley Dawn Cox, Hunter Austin Jack Daniels, Gavin Sullivan Davis, Owen Wayne Davison, Krista Grace Denney, Jeremiah Wade Dobbins, Celina Merrell Dray, Chase Lee Dunaway, Shaylan Lynn Eblin, Thomas William Edgar II, Andrew Keith Eleam, Jackie Alan Farley, Abagayle Rose Ferrell, Lucas Tyler Fitch, Brittany Marie George, Carley Marie Gillmore, Kaitlyn Marie Glassburn, Ryan Verner Grace, Allison Marie Hale, Kalynn Georgette Hall, Breanna Lee Harrison, David Thomas Ryan Hatfield, Hannah Claire Hawks, Eli David Hudson, Katelyn Star Johnson, Keri Brianne Johnson, Ryan Chase Johnson, Evan Matthew Justus, Hannah Elizabeth Kinney, Michael Lee Lambert, Jr., LaAaron Star Leach, Alyssa Lollathin, Zachary Tyler Long, Harrison Skye Luckeydoo, Alexander Thomas Maynard, Tyler Reid Maybe, Jarret Hunter McCarley, Jared Cole McCarty, Devan James McGhee, Shanleigh Cecille McGinness, Amy Nicle McGuire, Ashleigh Brooke McGuire, Isabella Brianne Mershon, Johnathon Woodrow Miller, Sarah Marie Moffett, Sharla Lynn Moody, Kylie Marie Myers, Jaden Lynn Neal, Jacob Abrahm Oehler, Johnathan Robert Painter, Justin Kyle Harley David Patrick, Drew Christian Penwell, Gerald Anthony Powers, Christine Noel Ramey, Natosha Raye Rankin, Leif Xavier Ray, George Matthew Rickett, Jessica Dawn Roush, Tristen Alex Rupp, David Lee Rutherford, Jr., Lynsey Kathleen Saber, Thomas E. Sargent, Amber Yvonne Schartiger, Ashley Nicole Schartiger, Robert William Schuhl, Jr., Kaylee Nichole Schultz, Jennifer Faith Sears, James Austin Levi Shaffer, Nathaniel Rian Matthew Simpkins, Jonathon Coalton Spencer, Gabriel Eric Stapleton, Zachary Thomas Stein, Madison Marie Tabor, Hunter Douglas Thompson, Jillian Danielle Veith, Paris DeJon Williams, Shawn Matthew Yates, Austin Ralph Wayne Young, Madison Jaye Young.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.