Class of 2018 walks across the stage

Jesse Walker Community

The Morgan County High School (MCHS) Class of 2018 threw their caps in the air after receiving their long-awaited high school diplomas last week. A total of 210 students walked during Friday night’s graduation ceremony.

The graduates were surrounded celebrated by their families, friends, and teachers as they said goodbye to MCHS and celebrated their academic achievements.

The Class of 2018 listened to Valedictorian Mackenzi Barrett and Salutatorian Cameron McCanless before finally turning their tassels.

Barrett encouraged her classmates to savor the little time they had left together before departing for their futures that would surely lead them down different paths.

“I will not lie to you and tell you some cliche like ‘It’s not goodbye forever; it’s only goodbye for now,’ because the truth is that the likelihood of all of us ever being together again is slim to none,’ said Barrett. “Sure, there will be reunions, but unfortunately not everyone will show up. Some will come for one. Others will come for another. Some won’t come at all. So in the next hour or so, cherish the time that we have left together because it will never be like this again.”

“Thirteen years of school culminates with this very ceremony. After today, we will no longer be high school students. We will be members of the workforce. College students. Soldiers. With many of us leaving Madison for new places, we are blank canvases waiting to be painted. You may think that you are already filled with different colors and patterns, but the truth is that these past eighteen years have only been a base coat. They are the foundation for all that is coming,” said Barrett.

She admonished the graduates to prepare for the journey ahead and to not fear the obstacles life produces.

“Right now, it may seem like we have reached a peak, but in reality, we are only on a ridge overlooking a beautiful sunset. After tonight, we still have a mountain to climb, and truth be told, I hope none of you never reach the peak. I hope you keep climbing higher and higher because all of you are filled with potential whether you realize it or not. Climbing higher and higher does not mean that your lives will always be easy. It’s a fact of life that we will all experience hardships. Sometimes our mountain will be so steep that we will think that we can’t keep climbing. Sometimes we will slip and fall. Sometimes we might even stumble backwards. Without these hardships, we cannot appreciate everything else,” said Barrett.

Salutatorian Cameron McCanless also implores his peers to embrace the struggles ahead and to allow themselves to be made better by them.

“Life is tough, it’s hard to get through sometimes, but it will only beat you down if you let it.  No matter how difficult the task (like writing a speech to give in front of thousands of people), you can always meet it with a straight back and a level gaze, and give it your best effort,” said McCanless. “To quote a good friend of mine, “I wish the people in my life a mountain of struggles, and the strength to surmount them.  Without struggles, life would be platonic and boring, plus you would never be able to truly appreciate certain things in life, or rather, life itself.”  Life’s a lottery, you don’t know what card you’re going to pull, but you can determine how you’ll react to the hand you’re dealt.  Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react to it, and it’s up to each and every one of you to take your challenges and turn them into triumphs.  Often our toughest struggles give rise to incredible opportunities that would have been missed if we hadn’t faced our problems head on. And what is life without opportunities? Boring, short, mundane, unmemorable.  A single experience, a single opportunity, can change your life.  But, if one always hides in the familiar and never steps outside their comfort zone, they never get the chance to truly live.  So, step outside more: go on that hiking trip in the Appalachian mountains with a friend, learn a new skill, apply for that exciting new job opportunity, stop wasting time and ask that boy or girl out, there are so many things that we miss because of our unfounded fear of the unknown.  Our lives our finite, but the possibilities are infinite.”

Morgan County officials expressed their pride over the Class of 2018 graduating and believing each of the graduates has been equipped through the education at Morgan County schools with the foundation to build a bright future.

“Congratulations!  You have reached a very important milestone in your life.  Leaving Morgan County High School with a high school diploma is a very special day for you and your family.  Numerous adults have worked tirelessly to help you achieve this moment,” wrote Dr. James Woodard, superintendent of Morgan County Schools, in a letter to MCHS graduates.   “The next chapter of your life is beginning. You will leave the Morgan County High School campus as alumni.  The celebrations, which occur this weekend, represent the importance your family places on your accomplishment.  However, Monday morning will come and you will begin the next chapter in your life.  Begin this journey with confidence that your are prepared.  Your academic foundation has been built.  Use this foundation as the building block for your future endeavors.  Be prepared to seek wisdom and advice of those who have traveled this road.  Be reflective on what stirs your soul and spirit.  Define what success will mean for you and dive into this chapter with excitement and anticipation.I challenge you to keep in mind the need to serve others.  A line in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) motto states, “Living to Serve”.  Allow your life to model that of being a servant to others. Reflect on those around you and be intentional in finding opportunities to help those who are less fortunate than you – These efforts will help you to always recognize and appreciate your own blessings.”

MCHS Principal Dr, Miki Edwards is proud of the Class of 2018 achieving this important milestone into adulthood.

“Congratulations to you on completing the journey through your high school years!  It has been a time of learning, growing, forming relationships and beginning to pave the path into your future,” wrote Edwards in a letter to graduating seniors. “This year, as we have broken ground and watched the progress of the new school in our current backyard, we claimed ‘what’s your plan?’ as our theme.  We have all been able to witness the amount of planning and forethought that is necessary with such a large project.  Your progress through school has also been accomplished due to the planning of many throughout the years – your parents, your teachers, school support staff, and you. Whether it was as simple as what to wear, what classes to take, what tests to study for first, or what courses were needed to help meet your post-graduation needs, there was always informal and formal planning going on every day. As you set out to leave us for the wide, wide world, I encourage you to continue to ask yourself, “what’s my plan?” along the way. This doesn’t mean that you always have to know what the exact next step will be; it simply means that you are giving thought to your direction. You are being purposeful to make sure that life doesn’t just happen to you; instead, you are looking forward and taking control of where you are headed… Know that as you leave us, we are honored to have been a part of your plan and your journey.  We are excited for you! We have faith that you will take what you have learned along the way to plan the best possible path for you.  We can’t wait to see where you end up!”

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