GALLIPOLIS — Memorial Field welcomed 122 graduates from the Gallia Academy High School Class of 2021 on Friday night.
Commencement began with the Gallia Academy High School Band performing “Fanfare and Processional” followed by a welcome delivered by Superintendent Craig Wright.
The Gallia Academy Senior Madrigals sang “America the Beautiful” prior to Principal Josh Donley presenting honorary awards.
Recognized for academic keys:
Science Key — Bode Wamsley;
Mathematics Key — Madison Stewart;
English Key — Brooke Hamilton;
Social Studies — Sarah Watts;
Music Key — Aurora Best.
Athletic Key winners — Riley Starnes, Madison Petro and Sarah Watts.
(More honorary awards are noted in the complete list of graduates within this story.)
Recognized for joining the U.S. Armed Services:
Charles Northup, US Air Force;
Eric Skidmore, US Army;
Madison Stewart, US Navy;
Michael White, US Air Force;
Derek Workman, Ohio Army National Guard.
Donley also recognized all seniors receiving academic scholarships, which as of May 20, was in excess of $1.4 million.
Giving student addresses and representing the top 10 percent of their class were Kelsey Hickel and Bode Wamsley.
Hickel spoke first, sharing a story of her own personal adversity and bouncing back from loss and change.
“Each of those events brought me here before you,” she said. “They each taught me lessons of patience, kindness, strength and appreciation. Every moment we spend with one another, every victory, no matter the magnitude, deserves to be celebrated. Having said that, we should all be grateful to be here today, together.”
Hickel recalled the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and how, “When the world began to shut down, I remember being anxious and, admittedly a little excited about getting out of school for a day. I quickly realized this was a mistake. I missed being with you all…
“The teachers, the staff, the students, I regretted wishing to have time away from each of you. Fortunately we were able to come together again this year and for that, I am unfathomably grateful. This time our parting is permanent…the memories, however, will last a lifetime.”
Wamsley then recalled coming to Gallia Academy High School as freshmen, when the idea of graduating was far in the future.
“Just as we never believed graduation would come, we will begin college and start our new lives the same way, but believe me, it will come and it will come fast,” he said.
Wamsley then recalled a quote written on a poster which hangs on a classroom wall at Gallia Academy from Muhammad Ali – “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
Wamsley told the crowd, “I really like it (the quote) because it inspires me not to look forward to the future but enjoy the present. Do things with friends and make memories with them, do things that will make you think, ‘that was a good day.’ If we live our lives just waiting for tomorrow, we will have nothing to look back on.”
Principal Donley and Assistant Principal Robert Neal then presented the Class of 2021.
A complete list of graduates (* denotes National Honor Society; + denotes Top 10 percent of Class; @ denotes Honors Diploma; # denotes National Vocational Technical Honor Society) as presented by Gallia Academy High School:
James Derique Armstrong, Michael Ryan Beasy, Jakob William Beaver, Zachary J. Belville, Conrad Donavan Berkley, Haley Mariah Berkley, Aurora Angelica Best *, Brianna Nicole Brock #, Grantland Blake Bryan, Kendra Nicole Buchanan, Braiden W. Burnett, Star Rae Tracey Burns.
Destiny R. Carpenter *, Jasmine Elise Clark, Kaylie E. Clark *+@, Hailie Shae Clickenger @, Madisyn Noelle Connelley*, Abigail Paige Cox *+ @, Aryan Matthew Cox, Cierra Ashley Lynn Cox #, Tyler R. Cox, Josie Lynn Cremeans, Tristin Levi Crisenbery, Bryson Scott Curfman, William Cooper Davis *+@, Melody L. Donnet, Coen Harold Duncan.
Hailey Jo Ehman, Caroline E. Evans, Alexis Ann Francis, Zane Edward Frye, Markeya Alexandra Gardner *, Joel Nikita Geiser, Cameron Alexander Gomez, Clarissa J. Gray, Malakai Allen Scott Halfhill +, Brooke Ann Hamilton *+, Kayla Lynn Hartshorn, Jordan M. Haskins, Zachary Edwin Hemby, Kelsey Breanna Hickel *+@, Christian K. Higginbotham *@, Brooklyn A. Hill, Jacob Christopher Hill, Jeffrey Michael Hill, Hannah M. Hoover *@, Justin Adam Howes, Richard Lee Huffman Jr.
Bailey Yvette Jacobs-Johnson, Josiah Daniel Johnson, Trenton Scott Johnson *@, Kyley Diane Jones, Tessa Lynn Jones, Olivia Marie Klein, Evin Michael Little @, Madison Riley Little, Hannah Ruthann Long #, Mackenzie Lee Long, Thurlis Jason Maines II, Jeremy Markin, Nicholas Ty Mayes, Kayon Jaedan Mayo, Calyn Aubrey McKean, Amaya N. Miller *@, Avery Lee Minton *+@, Ridge Alexander Mollohan, Emma Moodispaugh, Jonah Steven Moore, Madelyn Rae Moore, Kya A. Morris.
Logan Blake Nichols, Charles Jacob Lee Northup, Micah James O’Brien, Savannah Oesterreicher, Yahshua Jayson Peaks, Madison Carole Petro *+@, Darius Pishvazadeh, Erin Michelle Pope *+, James Tristan Preece, Jacob Rardin, Lillian Evalee Rees, Jessica Marie Rife, Braynt W. Rocchi *, Madison Taylor Rocchi, Colton Michael Roe *@, Connor Andrew Ross, Isabella Victoria Ann Roush, Rita Brooke Roush, Asa Wyatt Rucker.
Jarrell Christepher Scott, Preston Gage Simmers, Sierra G. Sims, Eric William Skidmore II, Jami L. Spaun, Riley Alan James Starnes, Jacien A. Stevens #, Madison A. Stewart *+@, Adam Theodore Stout *+@#, Michael J. Stout, Katlin Elizabeth Thivener, Grace Louise Thomas *, Koren D. Truance *, Autumn Storm Unroe, Dalton Wesley Vanco, Noah Andrew Vanco.
Dylan Nathaniel Walker, Emily G. Walker *+@, Bode Reese Wamsley *+@, Sarah Lynn Watts *+@, Cameron Nathanael Webb, Ethan Brody Whealdon, Michael Andrew White, Sterling Marie Wilcoxon, Kyland Michael Williams, Kalyn Christine Williamson, Brookelynn Grace Wolf, Sully Tyler Allen Woodie, Derek Randall Workman, Zachary Thomas Workman.
Bailie Alexis Young, Dakota Allan Young, Laura Elizabeth Young.
The Senior Madrigals performed one last time, with Senior Class President Braynt Rocchi leading the changing of the tassel tradition for classmates. The ceremony concluded at Memorial Field with a final performance of “Fanfare and Recessional” by the Gallia Academy High School Band.
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