Five Calhoun Yellow Jackets, of the graduating class relayed messages of perseverance through adaptation in accord with the theme of the evening.
Calhoun High School graduating seniors, Emily Rose Lance, Mary Elizabeth Box, Makenzie Braden Blalock, Seth Pierce Johnson, and David Jacob Baker spoke on the individual letters that came together to spell “adapt.”
The ability of CHS seniors to adapt to be successful in a constantly changing world was the emanating message.
Senior speakers outlined adversity, diversity arts/academics/athletics, perseverance and tomorrow, which the beginning letter of each word combined to form the word “adapt.”
Lance looked back on the senior class’s willingness to embrace the curriculum change as their class finished the last graduation exams ever at Calhoun High School.
“If anything, our accomplishments mean more knowing what we had to overcome to be successful,” said Lance.
Box spoke a message of diversity personified by the strength in numbers and differences embraced by so many students, who are all so different yet attained many of the same goals as a unit.
“We have had successes measured in seconds, points performances and rings. But most importantly, the Class of 2012 accepts, supports, and respects each other. When one succeeds, we all succeed. Together we stand,” said Box.
Whether academics, athletics or the arts, CHS students were proud to be graduating from a school with such a great legacy of success and triumphs in all three areas, according to Blalock.
“It is the same in life; when challenges arise, we become stronger if we meet them. It has been said that the greater the challenge, the greater the reward,” said Blalock.
With a tear in her eye, and a quiver in her voice, Blalock quoted the popular country song Tattoo’s on this Town, by Jason Aldean as epitomizing the graduating Class of 2012.
“It sure left its mark on us, we sure left our mark on it. We let the world know we were here, with everything we did. We laid a lot of memories down, like tattoos on this town,” said Blalock.
Next, a message on the power of perseverance when adversity stands in the way was the message spoken to the Class of 2012.
Johnson cited the historical comeback of a Duke University basketball coach who defied all odds because he believed in himself. With this story of inspiration, Johnson strongly encouraged his fellow classmates to embrace the one person in all of their lives that can triumph in the face of adversity, themselves.
“Krzyzewski persevered through the fear of failure and denouncement from those around him, deciding to believe in himself in his work. As he himself put it ‘The only way we lose is if we don’t try our best. There is always a way to win. Never say you cannot do it. Find the way to win,’ said Johnson,” quoting Krzyzewski.
Johnson further encouraged his peers on the importance of today for the strength they will need tomorrow and in the future.
“Take everything you can from these past four years and develop a more fervent perseverance toward your future goals. Class of 2012, our day is here, look forward to tomorrow and don’t lose touch with yourself along the way,” said Johnson.
Encouraging the students of his class to persevere through his speech, Baker spoke of the importance of the people who helped each graduating senior get to the special rite of passage that is graduation.
Naming several teachers and mentors in the audience in attendance, Baker explained the transition of these people from administrators to friends and people he will remain in contact with even beyond the halls of Calhoun High.
After the conclusion of the senior speeches, Principal Greg Green, spoke to the graduating Class of 2012, with a reminder of the mark these students left on their town and their school with the theme of the same song “Tattoos on this Town.”
“It became crystal clear to me that your tattoos will simply join the multitude of those that left by the ones that came before you, your accomplishments will become the fabric of what it means to be a Calhoun High School Yellow Jacket,” said Green.
He continued on to emphasize the potential for change he believes each senior holds within himself or herself to positively impact the world in the future.
“I challenge you to make the world adapt to you. Change the world with your life, make your mark, live life in a way that allows you many years from tonight, when you are old and gray, to look back at your life and say of this world: “it sure left its mark on us, we sure left our mark on it, we let the world know we were here, with everything we did. We laid a lot of memories down, like tattoos on this town,” said Green.
Assistant Principal Dr. Brittney Wilson, named all students and scholarships awarded, which included over $1 million in scholarships.
Before dispersing diploma’s Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Taylor, delivered a message of change and the importance of adaptation to the graduating Yellow Jackets.
Step by step, Taylor identified the changes the Class of 2012 has had to overcome from pre-k through their high school days as they were moved from school to school to cope with physical school changes and upgrades.
Taylor also took the opportunity to remember the late Paul Campbell who also experienced the same changes with the students.
“Mr. Paul saw many changes throughout his lifetime. He will be missed, but remembered as a positive ambassador for many, many students, throughout all the changes that he encountered in his lifetime,” said Taylor.
She continued on to applaud the ability of the students to adapt and explained that this ability will help them in the future and ensured their memory would be forever preserved with the construction of the new high school.
“When you come back in a few years, you will be able to walk the halls of our new high school and see memories of your class, the Class of 2012. The state championship trophies in nice display cases, the school crest in the lobby, your yearbook, pictures of your representatives and other memorabilia that will be here as you return for your class reunions and other school and community events, said Taylor. “You will be remembered because you are a part of an incredible high school with outstanding teachers and the support of community,” she said.
Lastly, Taylor charged the students to use the change and ability to adapt in their favor and change the world for the better.
“This class will survive. This class has demonstrated they can work as a team. They can get through any change that comes their way. Continuity gives us roots, change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights,” said Taylor. “I look forward seeing you adapt to changes, to soar to new heights as you take your first step in this new journey,” she said.
After receiving diplomas the graduating Class of 2012 transitioned the tassels on their caps as they completed the final phase of their journey through Jackets Country.
According to Taylor, though the Class of 2012’s journey as students has ended, their legacy as Calhoun High School Yellow Jackets, will remain forever.