JACKSON — The Jackson High School (JHS) Class of 2020 got to watch themselves graduate via video on Friday, May 22.
The large traditional commencement inside Jackson’s Alumni Stadium wasn’t held as it has been in past years.
The seniors each walked a in front of up to four family members, all at different times and days, prior to graduation day to receive their diplomas this year.
During those set days, the seniors were filmed and all of the footage, along with other traditional commencement activities were pieced together into a video. That video premiered online on May 22 at 8 p.m. The video playback can be found online at http://jcs.k12.oh.us/ and the Facebook page: Jackson City Schools — Jackson, Ohio.
The graduation video, which also featured a senior film and senior spotlights, began with a welcome from Jackson High School Senior Class President Helena Stacy.
Next was a recording of the Jackson Senior Choir members singing the “Star Spangled Banner,” followed by the Jackson Senior Band members playing the school’s “Alma Mater” via video.
Jackson Superintendent Phil Howard then introduced this year’s valedictorians — Caden Donaldson, Taylor Frazier, Jared Icenhower, Matthew LeFever, Logan Massie, Trinity Montgomery, Abigail Munn, Trase Speakman, Helena Stacy, Brynlee Vermillion, Mazie Wechter, and Emma Wiley.
First to speak was Donaldson.
He recalled that it was nine years ago this week, that he watching graduation when a valedictorian (Emily Cooper) of the Class of 2011 stepped to the podium to give her speak. Donaldson said it was then as a nine-year-old boy that he determined in his heart he would stand where she stood. He said Emily spoke about hard work and determination.
“Well, Emily, I am here, and I am here because you set the standard, and boy did you set it high,” Donaldson said.
Next was Frazier, who spoke about life being a puzzle and how the pieces fit —or don’t — along the way. He spoke about how you also give away and get pieces of the puzzle throughout life. Frazier said that his teachers helped him fill in his puzzle.
“When I originally thought of the context of this speech, I was in a boat fishing,” stated Frazier. “It was just me, a man in a boat, and I realized that life is like a puzzle.”
Icenhower was next to address the crowd through the camera lens. He thanked those, including God, who had helped him reach his potential and grow
“Life is not about what we have, it’s about what we do with what we have,” Icenhower said.
Next was LeFever, who said it was always a goal of his to be valedictorian. He went on to thank those who helped him along the way.
“I would like to wish my fellow classmates good luck in whatever endeavors they pursue,” LeFever ended.
Massie was up next. He talked about the Great Depression, 9/11, and the COVID-19 outbreak.
“My point is not to compare the tragedies of the past to the current health crisis, the events are simply not comparable,” stated Massie. “My point is to illustrate there is no way to predict the future.”
Massie added, “When we do encounter tragic or unexpected events I challenge the Class of 2020 to handle them with the same tenacity and kindness I’ve seen from each of you the last four years.”
Next was Montgomery, who said “To the Class of 2020, we did it... kind of?”
She talked about being upset about not being able to attend prom or a tradition graduation ceremony, however, Montgomery noted that her class would be going down in history.
Munn was up next. She talked about hard work, persistence, and gave some advice.
“If I could tell the incoming Kindergartners one thing... I would tell them to try everything,” stated Munn. “Whether that is going to every game, taking a hard class, trying a new sport, going to a dance, attending a summer camp, or applying to your dream University... I would tell them to try because you never know when you might get that last memory.”
Munn said, “Try it all so just in case your senior year ends unexpectedly you won’t have any regrets.”
Speakman was next to talk. He said the word “unconventional” is the perfect word to describe our class situation.
“We were 9/11 babies, and now we’re COVID-19 graduates,” said Speakman. “Our lives have been marked by incredibly trying events but we continue to rise above.”
Stacy, who was also the senior class president, explained that she would be taking most of her two minutes of speaking time to address her fellow classmates who had challenges throughout their high school careers, but still made it.
Next was Vermillion, who spoke about family and bonds.
Wechter was next to the last and she thanked everyone for their endless support over the years. She compared high school to track and running laps.
The final valedictorian to give a speech was Wiley. She talked about how she wanted to become valedictorian, however, she kept that goal quite for a long time. Wiley finally discussed that goal at a camp meeting, which later empowered her to reach for her goals. Her big dream is to become a CEO of her own company one day.
After the 12 valedictorians spoke, Haines along with help from a family member or two of each graduate, presented diplomas to each individual senior, one at a time of course. Several students graduated with honors and it was mentioned that several students were going into the military.
After the presentation, Haines thanked everyone who helped make the graduation this year special.
With a little bit of video magic, Haines, had the seniors “stand” and move their tassels, thus making them graduates. The graduates together (well, sort of) celebrated their completion of high school with the graduation cap toss, which wrapped up the video ceremony. Those two parts were pre-recorded and pieced together.