Rain forced the 2019 commencement ceremony at Person High School indoors, but the more intimate setting only served to bring the ceremony up close for the spectators who crowded into the school’s gymnasium.
Those who were there, heard student speakers extoll the virtues of their Person County roots.
Class valedictorian Olivia Kafer acknowledged that some students may move on from their Person County past, but she said it will always be with them.
“Wherever you go, remember where you came from,” Kafer said. “Success is only determined by your definition of it.”
Student Council officer Luke Clayton told his fellow graduates that their experience at Person High School would always be part of their personal make up. “The impact that Person High School has had on my life and the impact of family and friends will always be part of who I am. I will always bleed Rocket blue,” Clayton said.
The Class of 2019 was 286 members strong. They were an academic lot. Of the entire class, 220 were recognized for at least one academic or extracurricular honor. Graduates were recognized as N.C. Scholar honors and Person County Scholar honors. Other academic honors noted among this year’s graduates were concentrations in Career and Technical Education, career readiness certifications and post-secondary educational achievements including certifications from Piedmont Community College. Two students – Kafer and Nathan Phillips – walked across the stage twice, once to pick up their high school diploma and a second time to pick up their associate’s degree from Piedmont Community College.
PCC president Pamela Senegal estimated that Person High School students saved about $300,000 in college tuition costs by taking classes at PCC during their high school career.
Graduates were also recognized for their participation in the Senior Choral Ensemble and for earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, Girl Scouting’s highest honor.
Saturday’s commencement ceremony took a sharp turn when the decision was made to move the program indoors, but things went smoothly, thanks in no small part to the work of a strong class of junior marshals, including William Bailey, Nova Bocik, Melissa Carver, Taylor Carter, Alexandra Chapman, Keyleigh Clarke, Jezzi Ellis, Tony Ellis, Courtney Florence, Colton Fox, Courtney Gentry, Michael Hall, Davina Hoang, Jaxon Lappin, Christopher Lipscomb Jr., Mary Elizabeth Long, Kailey Mangum, Matthew McCowan, Jennifer Medina, Payen Pearsall, Aaron Piper, Meredith Porterfield, Ashley Sudduth, Julia Thomas, Ayanna Thorpe, Cameron Whitman and Makayla Woods.