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It was all smiles Friday evening as Mountain Home High School’s graduating class took to the school’s football field in front of a packed crowd of parents and friends.
High fives and hugs were passed around as students walked through a parade of teachers before taking their seats as the ceremony started. As each student took their turns walking across the stage, cheers from the crowd rang out through the stadium as blow-up beach balls playfully floated through the air.
And then, the big moment came for the class leaders to address their fellow students for the very last time.
“May the past be the sound of your feet upon the ground, and carry on,” said Joia August Traver to her fellow students. “May the tribulations of your high school years be just the beginning of life’s adventures and carry on. May the worst of these past four years be the best of the decades to come and carry on.”
The smiles and celebrations at this year’s graduation were well earned. Each graduating class student spent the majority of their high school career grappling with pandemics, social distancing, distance learning, and political turmoil. And they not only survived it, but they also thrived in it.
During last Thursday’s school board meeting, Mountain Home Public School Superintendent Jake Long revealed that this year’s graduating class earned over $3 million in scholarships to further their education and skills as young adults.
“We’re very blessed to live in the place that we live and have a community that supports our schools,” said Dr. Long. “On Tuesday night, our community handed out $280,000 worth of local scholarships only to our graduating seniors. If you couple that with about almost $400,000 in concurrent credit– if you go to college with concurrent credit, it’s a scholarship. When you go to college with concurrent credit, you’re not having to take that credit. And then, with all the other scholarships this class is receiving, they’ll be walking across the stage with about $3 million in scholarships.”
After receiving their diplomas, several students, including Brinna Nicole Ifland, Darren Jay Blount, Alexander Brendan Jordan, Emili Elkins, and Kaylee Mei Drake, took to the stage to reminisce about their time at school and all of the lessons they learned along the way.
“My grandpa passed in 2017, and in his wake, I realized he left me with something worth more than gold,” said Alexander Jordan as he thanked his family for helping him graduate. “He had shown me how to be a man. He left a lesson that no matter what, give your family your best. Providing his family with the best meant that he would work as many as three jobs at one point in his life. His death left behind boots too big for me to fill, and every day I make the choice to keep putting my socks on until my feet fit.”
While Jordan focused on the lessons he had learned from the generation before him, Kamryn Mahan urged her fellow students to fight for what they believe in and to take risks in life.
“We must always remember to fight for what we believe in and make our voice heard because there are probably others who are too shy and need our help,” said Kamryn Mahan. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. When you are taking chances, those mistakes may well be some of your best memories.”
At the end of the ceremony, Emili Elkins, the classes valedictorian, took to the stage to recap her school experience and to remind her fellow students that while life may become difficult in the future, they can be certain that they will have a myriad of love and joy to fall back on.
“I have been a first-hand witness to the beauty of loving and genuine friendships,” said Emili Elkins. “I have learned to perceive others not for who they are but for who they strive to become. Above all else, I learned to approach each challenge that I am presented with unique boldness and tenacity. So, as we may be certain that we will endure great hardship and heartbreak in each of our lives, we may also be certain that we will fall back upon a myriad of love, success, and joy.”
With the speeches finished, Dr. Long asked the class of 2022 to arise for their Alma Mater before releasing his former students back to their loved ones.
“Bomber nation, family, and friends,” Long said. “I present to you the graduated class of 2022. Congratulations!”