CENTENARY — Members of the Gallia Academy High School Class of 2019 literally made it through the storm on Friday evening when they received their diplomas during the school’s annual commencement ceremony.
Despite the rainy weather outside, inside the gymnasium, seniors gathered together one last time and entered to a rendition of “Fanfare and Processional” by the GAHS Band under the direction of John Barrett. The welcome was then delivered by Gallipolis City Schools Superintendent Craig Wright.
Wright spoke about “success” and how to define and attain it, telling the story of President Abraham Lincoln who was not deterred by failure. He also told seniors, some graduates of Gallia Academy were currently the presidents of two universities and three CEO’s of multi-million dollar companies.
“My point today is this, don’t ever be afraid of trying or failing in life,” Wright said. “Take it from me, life is short and windows of opportunity close quickly. Because you come from a small, rural community doesn’t mean your opportunities for success are limited. In fact, being a graduate of Gallia Academy High School should be a solid foundation for great things to come in your future.”
Next the GAHS Madrigals, under the direction of Nattalie Phillips, performed “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent.” “America the Beautiful” was then performed by seniors Sophia Skinner and Grace Sydnor.
GAHS Principal Josh Donley then presented honorary awards and recognitions for the Class of 2019. The top 10 percent of the class were recognized as Elijah Baird, Colin Casey, Abigial Cremeans, Elizabeth Hoover, Justin McClelland, Cheyenne McGuire, Clay Montgomery, Lane Pullins, Elis Rutherford, Bo Saxon, Brett Sisson, Taylor Staton and Jenna Wood.
National Honor Society
Elijah Baird, Taylor Burnette, Cory Call, Katie Carpenter, Abigail Cremeans, Cole Davis, Molly Fitzwater, Derek Henry, Elizabeth Hoover, Kiesla Kormanik, Mariah Liberatore, Brittany Masters, Tea McCarley, Justin McClelland, Gretchen McConnell, Cheyenne McGuire, Clay Montgomery, Lane Pullins, Bo Saxon, Wyatt Sipple, Morgan Stanley, Taylor Staton, Ashton Webb, Madalyn Williamson, Jenna Wood.
State Honors Diploma
Elijah Baird, Shane Bays, Taylor Burnette, Cory Call, Katie Carpenter, Hunter Copley, Abigail Cremeans, Cole Davis, Hannah Downs, Trinity Eggers, Joshua Faro, Thomas Hamilton, Elizabeth Hoover, Kiesla Kormanik, Chance Labello, Mariah Liberatore, Kaytlyn Landamood, Brittany Masters, Justin McClelland, Cheyenne McGuire, Clay Montgomery, Lane Pullins, Bo Saxon, Wyatt Sipple, Brett Sisson, Sophia Skinner, Morgan Stanley, Taylor Staton, Madalyn Williamson, Jenna Wood.
National Technical Vocational Honors Student
Senior Key Awards
Top Students in Academics, representing the top 10 percent of the class: Elijah Baird and Clay Montgomery. Outstanding Senior in Science: Elijah Baird. Outstanding Senior in Mathematics: Shane Bays. Outstanding Senior in English: Elizabeth Hoover. Outstanding Senior in Social Studies: Clay Montgomery. Outstanding Senior in Music: Elizabeth Hoover. Outstanding Male Athletes: Justin McClelland, Cory Call, Lane Pullins. Outstanding Female Athlete: Ashton Webb.
Donley then spoke about the scholarships awarded to the Class of 2019 which totaled approximately $1.2 million.
Recognized for enlisting in the United States Armed Forces were seniors Ian Evans, Joshua Fink, Richard White.
Representing the top 10 percent of their class, Elijah Baird and Clay Montgomery then delivered student addresses.
Baird first gave his speech, thanking “everyone that helped get us here today” on behalf of himself and his classmates, whom he also thanked, giving them some advice on not giving up.
“Life is not going to go according to plan and that’s OK because as long as you can persevere through the tough, unexpected and confusing times, the times when you don’t get the job you want, the times when you fail a test you needed to pass, and you keep your head high and you keep going forward, life tends to work out. Maybe not in the way you wanted it to at the time, and almost surely not the way you envisioned it, but it does tend to work out in its own way…so never give up, never quit. If you stay the course, things will be how they should be.”
Montgomery then addressed his classmates and those gathered for commencement, also thanking family, friends and teachers for their support.
“I believe we were all born with a purpose and a passion for something great,” he said. “Class of 2019, I want us to find our purpose in this life and prepare for where it can take us.”
Montgomery continued, “I want to challenge us to pursue our passion at all costs. We need to find out what we are good at and throw all we have into making that dream a reality. If we fail I hope we fail big…I want us to find enjoyment and fulfillment in our lives. I hope we all find careers that will challenge us and bring us joy. Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Montgomery then spoke about helping others, and how he considered this “the greatest joy.” He added, “anyone who has been able to positively impact another individual’s life can testify to the joy that is derived from it.”
In closing, he told the Class of 2019: “By waking up this morning we were given the opportunity to do something great. Something that can make a difference.”
Donley then presented the Class of 2019 to Wright, with Assistant Principal Robert Neal reading the names of the 131 graduates.
Those receiving diplomas, as listed in the commencement program: Elijah Adam Baird, Katelyn Batten, Shane Douglas Bays, Stormy Renae Bays, Sahvana Shyann Boggs, Shannon Elizabeth Bowyer, Cody James Brumfield, Hannah Nicole Burgess, Taylor Olivia Burnette, Lillian M. Burns, Austin Reid Burris, Samantha Ann Burris, Hayle Nichole Bush, Cory L. Call, Carter Michael Campbell, Jacob Matthew Campbell, Katie Ann Carpenter, Blaine M. Carter, Brendan Michael Carter, Colin P. Casey, Shayla Casto, Morgyn Tayler Clark, Thomas Eugene Clark, Lucas L. Conn, Hunter Grace Copley, Abigail Sheridan McKean-Cremeans, Sydney Elizabeth Crothers, Caleb Nickolas Danford, Cole Michael Davis, Marissa Lynn Davis, Justin Allen Day, Sean Hunter Dischert, Alaina Danae Donohue, Hannah Downs, Trinity Paige Eggers, Kaden Ehman, Ian Christopher Evans, Joshua Faro, Dewey Allen Ferguson, Joshua Michael Fink, Molly Margaret Fitzwater, Seth Aaron Flinner, Elizabeth Jolyn Frye, Trinity D. Frye, Kelsie Dawn Gillispie, Courtney Gray, Thomas Scott Hamilton, Destanee A. Hampton, Caleb Matthew Henry, Derek Lee Henry, Elizabeth Noraa Hoover, Kayla Nichole Huffman, Haley Jade Hughes, Natasha Nicole Jamason, Kaitlyn Page Jarrell, Ricki Jones, Arianna Jordan, Charles J. Kinder, Paige N. Kinnison, Kielsa Keshay Kormanik, Chance Michael LaBello, Mariah Suzanne Liberatore, Kaytlyn Marie Lindamood, Destiny Clare Long, David Brandon Lucas, Jessie Martin, Alyssa Marxen, Brittany Dawn Masters, Kyle R. Masters, Porsha Arya Mayo, Tea Marie McCarley, Justin L. McClelland, Kimberly Jean McComas, Gretchen M. McConnell, Cheyenne Dove McGuire, Dorthy Irene McGuire, Garrett Allen McGuire, Cadha Ashtynn McKean, Tabatha Lynn McNeal, Ashleigh Marie Miller, Clay Michael Montgomery, Destiny Mulholland, Jon Wesley Tyler Mullen, Katlin Rose Muncy, Zach Newell, Jayetta Destinee Newsome, Alexis Elizabeth Nickels, Samuel Patrick Petrie, Haylee Elizabeth Polinsky, Tristan Charles Andrew Polsley, Lane Matthew Pullins, Kenton D. Ramsey, Logan Rose, Richard Alexander Rose, Jonathan Parker Ross, Kenedie Leann Roush, Colton Jay Russell, Eli Gordon Rutherford, Cheyenne M. Savage, Bo Wiley Saxon, Nicholas Allen Sheets, Johnathan Grover Shepherd, April Leann Sherwood, Carlin Breann Short, Wyatt Joseph Sipple, Brett Ashley Sisson, McKenzie Ryan Skidmore, Sophia Marie Skinner, Bryce David Smith, Morgan Scott Stanley, Taylor Anne Staton, Jamie Loraine Steger, Jason Trevon Stroud, Alana Grace Sydnor, Amara Thomas, Phuong Yen Tran, Kyra Shyanne Traylor, Ashley Nicole Turley, Aubrey R. Unroe, Bailey Cole Walker, Trentin Shawn Waller, Derricka Marcella Ward, Harley Joseph Watson, Nicholas Watson, Mollie Jo Waugh, Ashton Paige Webb, Owen Levi White, Richard Allen White, Kaitlyn Leann Williams, Madalyn Elizabeth Williamson, Hayley Wood, Jenna Elizabeth Wood, Kathryn Zornes.
Elizabeth Hoover and Sam Petrie, members the Madrigals, then led a rendition of the GAHS Alma Mater, followed by Senior Class President Chance Labello leading the changing of the tassels. Graduates exited the gymnasium to “Fanfare and Recessional” by the GAHS Band.
Among those also in attendance, faculty and staff from GAHS and members of the Gallipolis City Schools Board of Education.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.