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VHS celebrates 2020 graduates

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

A long-anticipated event was finally able to be held for Verbena High School graduates on June 8.

Graduates, family and staff were excited to be able to hold an in-person ceremony after a time of uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Valedictorian Shaniah Pasley thanked all of the faculty and staff for their support through the years.

“To my classmates, we have become a family over the years,” Pasley said. “We have had some fun times and some rough times, but we always find our way back to each other. I know that our senior year has not been the best, but here we are, and we can finally say, ‘We did it.’ … Thank you all for making my years at Verbena the best years of my life.”

She reminded the class of 2020 how one of their teachers had told them they would be the ones to save the world.

“It is our time to do so,” Pasley said. “With everything going on in the world, now is our time to step up and save the world. We have the key to our future in our hand and all we have to do is unlock it.”

Salutatorian Dalton Scarbrough was unable to attend the ceremony.

“I am humbled to be speaking to such a close community of friends and family,” Salutatorian Jenae Pierce said. “Each person here has put in a great deal of effort to ensure that this class made it to commencement. There are not enough thanks in a lifetime to express our sincere gratitude.”

She told her fellow graduates “To not hold back, pursue your goals furiously … take the next chapter by storm, be the change in the world you want to see, go out and make it happen. Congratulations.”

Since the school’s traditional torch passing ceremony to the 2021 senior class could not be held, it was incorporated into the graduation.

Also during the ceremony, the senior class recognized four teachers that they felt had a special and lasting impact on them during their time at the school. These teachers were Molly Cameron, Jane Cleckler, Leslee Deavers and Lenora Price. Senior Class President Madison Kelley thanked each of these teachers and other faculty members for the help they have given the senior class while in school and to prepare them for the future.

This graduation had special significance for Assistant Principal Mark Cleckler because some of the graduates were a part of the last third-grade class he taught.

“Watching you grow through the years has been a pleasure,” Cleckler said. “… Trust God in every situation. Work hard. Prepare the best as you can, then watch and see how God works in your life.”

He told students that the challenges they have faced in these difficult times can be a part of helping them continue to grow and be determined to reach their goals.

“I encourage you to take opportunities to move you from where you are,” Cleckler said.

He encouraged students to take advantage of opportunities even if things did not go how they had planned.