McARTHUR — Residents of Vinton County and beyond gathered together to watch the Vinton County High School Class of 2021 begin their lives as high school graduates. After the 2020 graduation ceremony had to be converted to a drive-thru in order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 class was able to inject some humor into their ceremony by having their class song be “Six Feet Apart” by Luke Combs.

The ceremony got started off with the seniors taking their final steps as high school students onto the track at Vinton County High School. A total of 155 students graduated at the ceremony with a variety of experiences under their belt from the various clubs and activities available to them during their high school years.

Principal JJ Miliken was on hand to introduce both the Valedictorian Olivia Mayers and Salutatorian Morgan LeMay.

LeMay spoke about the ceremony representing not just the class’s four years in high school but their fourteen year journey throughout their entire academic career together.

“We are gathered to celebrate the good and bad memories from the last four years of high school, the amazing and sometimes annoying teachers, late night study sessions before a big test, and the times spent with our friends in and out of Vinton County’s hallways.” stated LeMay.

She quoted Helen Keller in her speech and reminded her fellow classmates to not forget those who shaped them and the community that raised them. She explained that she will continue to carry a piece of Vinton County with her as she plans to move to Oregon to attend college to become a veterinarian.

Olivia Mayers, the Class of 2021 valedictorian, chose to use her speech to thank Vinton County and its residents for welcoming her with open arms when her and her family first moved to the area when she was in first grade. Mayers thanked her parents, siblings, and her fellow graduates as well.

She further went on to recognize the Vinton County School Board, administration, teachers, and staff. She mentioned her cross country coaches Josh Kirkpatrick and John Linder for teaching her how to be a better person and athlete.

“I was always, even from a young age, looking to the future. I always wanted to go to the next step, do the next thing.” said Mayers as she explained how she eagerly awaited each step in her educational journey.

In between the student speeches, senior members of the Vinton County High School Choir performed “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” while being directed by Ms. Joy Henderson.

Superintendent Rick Brooks made a point to thank the families of students for their patience during a particularly trying school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He congratulated the graduating seniors on their journey and implored that they look around and “absorb this moment because it happens only once.”

Some of Superintendent Brooks final words to the graduating seniors included, “Class of 2021, make every attempt to stay in touch with your friends, reflect often, maintain good character, thank and appreciate those special people in your life, and be happy.”

Senior Class president Kiki Barlow stood before her classmates and lead the Turning of the Tassel, signifying that her and her fellow classmates had finally ended their academic journey as Vikings.

The class motto for this years graduates seemed an extremely fitting tribute to what lies ahead of them as they leave for bigger adventures, “Everything will be fine in the end and if it isn’t, it’s not the end yet.”

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