Nearly 300 seniors graduated from Henry County High School Friday night at a jam-packed Patriot Stadium.
With a near-perfect night weather-wise, that large crowd saw the class, announced as 295 graduates by HCHS principal Michele Webb, stride to the podium and receive their hard-earned diplomas.
The various class members have so far compiled $3,798,317 worth of scholarship money for their future education. That doesn’t include Tennessee Promise scholarships, which have been awarded but for which no specific dollar amount has been finalized.
Webb said 263 members of the graduating class are committed to attend college or technical schools, and nine members will be joining the military.
Valedictorian Kester Nucum, who plans to attend Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, gave the keynote speech.
“Each one of us has been given a set of talents and gifts, whether it be athletic stamina, musical talent, artistic passion, academic grit or just plain common sense,” said Nucum.
“These traits not only characterize us but also can be used to illuminate the lives of others, even if the gifts that we give are small as a single smile.”
Salutatorian Delia McDevitt, bound for the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, spoke about the potential of her classmates.
“Although the future may seem daunting to some of us, myself included, remember that every single one of you are capable and deserving,” McDevitt said.
“Remember that you are intelligent. You are bold. And most importantly, you are uniquely you.”
Logan Lacy, the class honorable mention student, will be going to Washington University in St. Louis. touched on integrity as a key to future success.
“Whether you are continuing your education at a community college or university, joining the workforce, or enlisting in the military, integrity will consistently be the guiding point of your career,” Lacy said.
“Remaining loyal to yourself — despite the odds that you may face in doing so — is an essential aspect of prosperity. The opinions of those around you can neither define your worth nor define your abilities. Only you can decide how to write your personal narrative.”
Thje first speaker among the students was class president Caroline Gurton, who also had the honor of carrying the HCHS Mace to the podium during the ceremony, referenced writer Morgan Harper Nichols in her speech.
Using a Nichols quote, “This is the season you will make beautiful things, not perfect things, but honest things that speak to who you are and who you are called to be,” Gurton, who plans to attend UT Martin, said “that quote is a reminder that you do not have to worry about things being perfect in order to achieve your goals.
“In the next few years, each of you will discover more about yourself than you ever thought imaginable.”
Jill Coker, chairman of the Henry County Board of Education, handed diplomas to the students as they crossed the podium, and both the HCHS band and Madrigals performed during the ceremony.