MERCERVILLE — Weathering yet another storm to end their senior year, South Gallia High School’s Class of 2021 faced literal rain and clouds, persevering to receive their diplomas on Saturday during a commencement ceremony held on the football field.
Principal Bray Shamblin welcomed those gathered, including special guests — thanking the VFW Color Guard Post 4464 for presenting the colors. Superintendent Jude Meyers also gave brief remarks, praising the perseverance of the senior class which made it through a school year which, as he noted, had its share of ups and downs regarding the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shamblin then introduced the WSAZ Best of the Class Representative Madison Graves who delivered a commencement address to fellow classmates, beginning it with an apology for the tears she promised would arrive. She then thanked those who had supported her including family, friends and staff at SGHS.
Noting that “time flies” she asked, “I wonder where all that time went?”
Graves explained “Tomorrow is the first page in our new chapter. I know that new things are very scary but fellow graduates, I beg you to not be afraid. We are strong. We are capable. We may not be 10 feet tall and bulletproof…but we are enough. Each of us is an amazing and spectacular person. I wish you all good luck but I know you don’t need it. I know a lot of our paths are going in different directions….I know each of us can do whatever we set our minds to but despite what anyone says, we are a class full of strong, sharp, talented, hardworking people. I know I’m talking to future nurses, teachers, truck drivers and all kinds of other members of the community and I know I’m talking to our Rebel Family…it’s true, you are my family.”
Graves then shared five things she said she’d learned from her classmates:
It pays to take a detour, those are most likely the best part of the journey;
It’s OK to take chances;
Don’t ever waste an opportunity;
Do what you want to do, life will not wait for you;
“Roll with the punches because they will keep punching, even when you’re down…”
Graves ended her speech by thanking her classmates for “being there and teaching me so much.”
“I’d like to leave off with some words of encouragement,” she said. “I know that the world, especially right now, can be scary but I know that Rebels are much scarier than anything we could be up against, especially as a family like we are…I for one cannot wait to see what we do.”
Next to address her classmates was Class Vice President Abigail Wallace. She recalled the effects of the pandemic on the Class of 2021, which actually began junior year with the loss of months of in-person learning and spring sports. While noting this was not the senior year many envisioned when entering SGHS as freshmen, it had its memorable moments: “I have had the privilege of having amazing teachers and friends. As seniors, we have come together this year to make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Like Graves, Wallace thanked those responsible for supporting her in life and at school as did the next speaker, Class President Emma Shamblin.
“The long-awaited day is here and it cannot be more bittersweet,” Emma said. “I want nothing more than to start over with all of you and live it all over again, enjoying each and every second a little more than the last.”
In addition to recalling class memories, she gave praise to teachers at SGHS, saying they were “the shoulder to lean on, the ones to pick us up when we fall and are overall wonderful human beings.”
The class president continued: “With all that we’ve accomplished this year as a class, nothing would be possible without God. God has always been a huge part of my life and I owe everything to Him. He has kept this class safe and made sure we were surrounded with some of the best people to grow up with…”
Mrs. Dafney Davis then introduced guest speaker Dr. Bryan Rupert, the 2003 Salutatorian of SGHS who went on to receive an extensive education with a background in anthropology and has traveled the world. Mrs. Michelle Riffle then announced the scholarship awards which totaled $209,198.
Next was the presentation of 55 diplomas with Principal Shamblin, members of the Gallia County Local Schools Board of Education and Mrs. Riffle.
A complete list of graduates from the South Gallia High School Class of 2021 is as follows (* Denotes Honor Diplomas. % Denotes Top 10 percent of the class. + Denotes Summa Cum Laude. # Denotes Magna Cum Laude. @ Denotes Cum Laude. ^ Denotes Merit List. (S) Denotes Graduation Seal.):
Emma Sue Andears ^(S), Jack Aaron Anderson ^, Dustin Alan Bainter (S), Marshall Bradley Beegle (S), Ethan Brian Bevan ^(S), Kristen Kala Blakeman (S), Savannah Elise Brown, Trinity Faith Brown ^(S), Chloey Elizabeth Campbell ^(S), Isabella Skye Cochran %@(S), Caleb Tristan Condee ^(S), Wyatt Adam Coon ^(S), John Henry Griffin Davis ^(S), Kylen Christopher Deskins ^(S), Evander Diamond Ehman ^(S), Emily Nicole Fox %^(S), Garrett Andrew Frazee ^(S), Madison Marie Graves %+(S), Ryley Jakob Harrison (S), Kennedey Morgen Lambert ^(S), Jaxxin Levi David Mabe ^(S), Emily Jane Mandeville ^, Joseph Michael Mandeville %+, Dalton Kolby McCloud, Ariel Jade McGuire %@, Jonathan Blake Brownwell McHargue, Bryanna Elizabeth Miller, Jeremiah Cole Miller ^, Dustin Randall Moore, Charles Reason Moreland (S), Timothy Scott Murphy III ^(S), Christopher Layne Ours, Jasmine Nicole Perry, Hannah Elaine Polcyn @(S), Faith Elizabeth Poling ^, Naveh Lee Faith Prince ^(S), Olivia Faye Roberts ^, Levi Michael Shafer ^, Emma Gayle Shamblin ^(S), Chelsi Marie Siders, Kenneth William Siders, Andrew Joseph Small ^(S), Corbin Patrick Smith (S), Gabrielle Renee Spurlock ^(S), Madisyn Bailee Spurlock ^(S), Noah Curtis Spurlock (S), Travis Scott Spurlock, Lanasha Alexis Steele ^(S), Kierra Lynn Thivener ^, Ashanti Maelea Valentine ^(S), Abigail Faith Wallace %#, Ty David Walters ^, Makayla Joe Waugh ^, Hayley Marie Welch ^(S), Paris Laura Lasha Wood ^(S).
Also participating in commencement were: Payten Halley and the SGHS Band performing the Star Spangled Banner; Timothy Murphy and John Davis led the Pledge of Allegiance; Matthew Bess introduced VFW Post 4464; Garrett Frazee delivered the invocation; Emma Shamblin led the changing of the tassels; Andrew Small delivered the benediction. The SGHS performed “Over Drive” as well as the school fight song and alma mater.
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.