CLARKSVILLE—For 29 Clopton High School seniors, Sunday brought the graduation ceremony for which they long waited.
One would think that for some after four years, a few more weeks of waiting would not make much difference. And it didn’t. All the fanfare was there. Caps and gowns in place, the seniors strode into the school gym and up to their seats. Family members and some faculty were able to find seating that had been separated according to health department regulations. Because the graduating class was small, each student had been given six guest tickets.
For those who couldn’t attend, the ceremony was being linked live on YouTube.
School Superintendent Mark Harvey welcomed all who had come to witness the 2020 graduating class of Clopton High School. He introduced the School Board and thanked them for their support in coming to recognize the graduating seniors.
The audience was shown a photos of the seniors from their pasts and a current photo. One student, Tricia Luke, could not attend the ceremony on Sunday because she had already left for training with the U.S. Army. That brought a huge round of applause from the audience. Her diploma, along with a U.S. Flag and other items were presented to her family during the ceremony, in honor of Tricia’s service to this country.
From there the seniors were presented with their awards. It was noted that this class had received a total of $175,000 in scholarships for their academic achievements.
Salutatorian, Kasey Leake, delivered her speech for the graduating class. She said briefly thought of winging the speech, but said “For those of you who know how awkward I am, that would not have gone well.”
Kasey noted that while the school was shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, she had a lot of time to think about what she would say at graduation.
She talked about one of her favorite shows “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” In it, one of the characters dispenses wisdom to the other characters. Kasey quoted, “It is important to draw wisdom from many different places.” She added that, “Our experiences in life are not universal. We are all unique people with unique experiences that we all learn from in unique ways.”
Valedictorian, Shawn Yates, has been offered a full-ride scholarship to major in premed at Washington University.
He noted that this graduating class became unique because of the pandemic. Being in a small community such as Clarksville, he added, meant that they could have an in-person ceremony, unlike other schools.
The graduation may have been pushed back, he said, “but it is definitely better than what it could have been.” That extra time made him happy because it gave him extra time to write his speech.
He congratulated his fellow classmates for overcoming the disease that impacted their lives in their final year of high school.
“It may have been difficult,” he said, “but we persevered.”
But he wasn’t talking about COVID-19—instead it was senioritis—a somewhat debilitating disease that affects some seniors.
He finished up with a little rap about not being afraid of failure to understand success.
When the diplomas were handed out, Yates handed Principal Lawrence Lagemann a pack of toilet paper.
“Well, I do know I’m more prepared for a stay-at-home order than anybody here,” Lagemann said after receiving his TP. He thanked the teachers and staff for their time and dedication to the students. He also thanked the parents of the graduates for raising respectful and responsible young men and women.
He also apologized to the seniors because their final year of high school did not end they way they had thought it would.
“Your senior year is about making memories,” he added, “and I do not think you’ll ever say you don’t remember your senior year, although it might not be for the right reasons.”
He asked the seniors to continue to get better and to serve others, because “You’ll get the most out of your lives when you realize it’s not all about you.”