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Goal fulfilled: CCHS graduates receive diplomas

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The sun shone bright on the morning of June 13 as the 195 graduates of the Chilton County High School class of 2020 walked across the football field to take their seats for the ceremony.

Valedictorians for the class with a 4.25 GPA or higher were Kylie Bee, Lucas Dale, Sara Elizabeth Huntley, Justin Liveoak, Kaitlin Mims, Blake Moats, Abbey Moses, Jada Neal, Tucker Price, Jason Shi, Amanda Sparks, Karli Tilley and Cayleen Wakefield. Derreck Ivey was the salutatorian.

Shi gave the valedictorian speech. He thanked everyone at the school who had made it possible for them to make it to graduation.

He thanked his fellow classmates for all the memories and making the past four years “a blast.”

“We have arrived at the destination of our journey, and we have come to a crossroads where we each head out on new and different paths.” Shi said. “No matter where you go, whether you are going to college or diving into a career … hold on to your convictions and make your dreams happen. There are a lot of problems in this world we live in, but if we listen to those around us, learn from those around us and help those around us, we can overcome any challenges that we might face.”

He wished the graduates success and happiness in their futures.

Huntley, as Student Government Association president, and class president Shi Keem Laister also spoke at the event.

“I have spent the past year serving as Chilton County High School’s first ever female African-American SGA president,” Huntley said.  “As a representative of the entire student body, I have tried my best to lead with an open mind and a servant heart. I hope that is a legacy I leave for the students I have had the opportunity to speak for this year.”

She said serving in this role and the “terrible moments that have been shaking this country” have shown her the importance of leaders having a sense of responsibility.

“As the future leaders of society, I want each of you graduates to think about the responsibility that you have to shape the world we live in,” Huntley said. “I pray that we learn from our mistakes and work to make this country more innovative, open minded, empathic and accepting.”

She encouraged the graduates that everything they do does matter.

Laister recounted the things the class had missed out on because of the pandemic.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss this place and the people here,” Laister said. “… Seniors this year has been a challenge but I think no other group could have handled like we have. We are special and unique in our own way, and each of us brings something to the table. I know it might not always seem like it, but you do matter and you are loved.

Principal Ron Pinson recognized those “who have helped raise this class,” teachers and staff for their impact on the graduates. He said the challenges that have come to the graduates can help them grow.

He encouraged those in attendance to show empathy and compassion and realize that “there is no one definition of success.

“Learn to tell the difference between crisis and inconvenience,” Pinson said. “… The greatest gift that you can give others is your smile.”