POINT PLEASANT — There were 178 diplomas presented to seniors from the Point Pleasant High School Class of 2018 on Saturday evening during the school’s 122nd commencement ceremony.
The processional began with “Pomp and Circumstance” but transitioned into a nontraditional student musician-led drumline solo. Next a performance of the National Anthem was performed by LeeAnn Anderson, Grant Bale, Bailey Barnett, Chelsea Campbell, Faith Cook, Gracie Cottrill, Brittany Crump, Alexander Gibbs, Caleb Grimm, Kate Henderson, Katie Moody, Nicholas Newell, Cierra Porter, Matthew Smith and Bryce Tayengco from the Senior Chorus under the direction of Crystal Hendricks.
Student Council President Kate Henderson then delivered the welcome, followed by Gracie Cottrill, National Honor Society vice-president, giving the introduction of Summa Cum Laude Student Representatives MacKenzie Freeman and Bryce Tayengco.
Last week, PPHS announced its top student as Tayengco, followed in the class ranking by Freeman. Both addressed those gathered for commencement.
Freeman began her remarks by thanking those who helped her become a young adult, including family and faculty members. She then spoke to her classmates about their roots.
“I would like to remind you all about your roots and where they lead you,” she said. “The base of the tree is our foundation. It is the generations built up into a massive support system. Along that system, do we find branches. The branches that we see are interconnected relationships bound together by sacred oaths of love… Upon them do we see the start of a new leaf’s life. In a sense, our growth resembles the growth and time span of a leaf.”
Speaking about the seasons of lives and leaves, she continued to talk about change: “Things begin to change as we realize our ties to the branches begin to loosen. We are fearful to let go, but our foundation knows otherwise. It knows that we are grown and so strong, and it knows it’s time for us to let go. Before we realize it, our departure into the wild has begun.
As we are falling, some of us are scared… What happens when we reach the ground? Will I be able to take my place and form a foundation? Or can I withstand this fall without someone holding my hand? …When we reach that cool earthy ground, we hit a state of homeostasis. We become balanced and so full of joy to have reached the beginning of our new tomorrow.
It may come as a surprise but, our journey and struggles are far from over. Without a second breath the wind catches us, and we take off. Where the wind will take us is a mystery forever unsolved. The wind, takes us as it pleases, and it is our job to go with the breeze and face all of life’s challenges…. Remember when you get lost that you not only came from one tree, but a forest of people who make up this wild and free town.”
Freeman closed with: “To the class of 2018, from the bottom of my heart I thank you for all the years I have spent with you. Each of you has had such an enormous impact on my life, and I’ll never forget what we did here. I hope you all have a blessed future and all the success in the world.”
Tayengco then took his class through their four years at Point Pleasant High School.
“The year was 2014, we were freshmen then, newcomers to high school…and we thought we were ready right? We just finished two years of training in what was called middle school, but we were just feeling our way into high school, excited, modest and determined to find our strengths. Somedays we did well and some days we failed miserably… But if there is one thing we learned, it was that our new-found friends and teachers wanted us to succeed. And so, our first year in high school came to pass and we knew then, that any kind of pain and defeat was temporary. We lived to fight another day.
That other day was our sophomore year, it was more like making mac and cheese at home. You’ve all made mac and cheese, right? Who of you here have made mac and cheese and burnt the cheese on the bottom of the pot? Or better yet, some of us would make easy mac in the microwave…this is exactly how our sophomore year went. More was expected of us, we were not rookies anymore, instructions became more complex and as a result we became more responsible.
As juniors, we started to warm up to the idea that we were in this all together. We started to feel the evolutionary pressure, becoming mentors in the weight room, helping our team captains, being regular actors in theater, giving advice to our younger friends in the hallways, performing as second chair instrument players, involving ourselves in organizing school functions, and just learning how to learn. We developed a kind of self-confidence that only our friends understood. By this time, we were setting an example to the other, younger half of the school. By this time, we thought that we were all possibly descendants of the Mothman because we felt legendary.
Now, as seniors we became a lean, mean high school machine. We found our voice, we found our reason, and some of us found a job. We began seeing the world in a different light. We started to ask the difficult questions and develop strategies. We engaged in dialog and used our experience of the last three years to make some tough decisions and choices.”
Tayengco then condensed high school down into four lessons learned in four years:
“First, we all have to start somewhere. As freshmen out in the big bad world, remember that everything is difficult before it is easy. Pain is temporary, and we will live to fight another day. Second, we encountered a lot of life’s challenges, so be a creative sophomore, think outside the box and make mac and cheese your way. Third, we are legendary: all of us, all the time. We all come from a long line of hard working families. So, when it feels like the end, just remember, you are made of legendary stuff. And finally, we wouldn’t be here if not for these wonderful people behind us. Stand up Class of 2018, let’s turn around and give our parents, family and friends our biggest round of applause.”
Principal William Cottrill then spoke about the achievements of the Class of 2018, both in the classroom and within their own personal character. He then presented the Class of 2018 to Superintendent Jack Cullen as teacher Matthew Cottrill read the class roll. The changing of tassels was led by Gracie Cottrill and Nicholas Newell, senior class co-presidents.
A complete list of graduates for the PPHS Class of 2018 is as follows: (*) Bronze- 3.5– 3.8 overall grade point average (Cum Laude); (^) Silver– 3.81– 4.0 overall grade point average (Magna Cum Laude); (+) Gold– 4.01 or better grade point average (Summa Cum Laude):
Absten, Mackayla; Adams, Austin; Anderson, Leeann; Bailes, Destiny; Bale, Grant; Ball, Lauren; Barnett, Bailey*; Beattie, Lila+; Bechtle, Jason*; Billings, Khloie*; Blazer, Jonathan; Bonecutter, Gage; Boncutter III, Ronald^; Bright, Tyler; Bronosky, McKenna+; Brumfield, Justin*; Bryan, Darius; Bryant, Jacob; Byus, Kelsie^; Campbell, Chelsea*; Carlisle, Alexander; Carry, Jacob; Chapman, Jason; Clarke, Jason; Clendenin, Trevor^; Clendenin, Tyler; Cochran, Hunter; Cochran, Leah; Connolly, Brandon; Cook, Faith*; Cottrill, Gracie+; Craddock, Tre; Crump, Brittany; Crump, Bryce; Dabbs, Christina^; Darst, Kelly; Davis, Christopher; Dean, Wyatt; Derenberger, Trace; Detillion, Michael; Dickens, Joshua; Dotson, Brenna+; Drummond, Garrett; Dunford, Kirsten; Ebert, Charles; Ebert, Kara; Farley, Jacob*; Fetty, Hayden+; Fielder, Ian; Flowers, Andrew*; Foster, Alexander; Freeman, MacKenzie+; Geppert, Ryan; Gibbs, Alexander; Gillispie, Brian^; Gleason, Jesse; Grimm, Caleb; Grimm, Rachael; Halley, Timothy; Harbour, Garrett+; Hart, Sherman; Henderson, Kate+; Hersman, Maddison; Hill, Clayton; Hill, Logan*; Hodge, Austin; Holcomb, Hannah*; Holcomb, Hunter; Hughes, Brya; Hussell, Jacob*; Jeffrey, Thomas; Jeffries, Garrett; Jones, Jonathan; Jones, Makayla; Kapp, Isaac^; Keefer, Cinthia; Keyser, Jacob; Kinnaird, Emily; Knapp, Cheyann; Lambert, Caitlin; Landis, Kayla; Lane, Caleb; Lee, Grace*; Linger, Bradley; Logan, Bryson; Love, Hope; Lovejoy, Brendan; Lyons, Chad; Marcum, Danielle; Martin, Trevor; Massy-Nibert, Kyra; Massile, Jacob; Mayes, Elise; Mayes, McKenzie*; Mayes, Thomas; McCarthy, Gabrielle; McCarthy, Jena; McCoy, Brett; McKeever, Alexis; Merle, Robert; Milhoan, Alexxandra+; Moody, Katie+; Morris, Peyton; Moss, Alicia; Myers, Shawn; Myers, Shilee; Neal, Kylee; Newell, Nicholas*; Nibert, Hunter; Nicholson, Kansas; Nott, Austin; Nott, John; Ogier, Jeremiah; Oliver, Ryan; Parsons, Miranda; Patterson, Jacob; Patterson, Jennifer; Patterson, Taylor; Peal, Caitlin; Pearson, Wyatt*; Plants, William; Porter, Cierra+; Pratt, Tyler; Price, Kelsey+; Pyles, Olivia+; Rife, Chandler; Riffle, Jason; Roach, Adam; Roach, Randall^; Robinson, Madison; Rollins, Josey; Rose, Tiffany; Roub, Jacob; Roush, McKenzie; Roush, Tristen; Sang, Olivia; See, Hailey; Sexton, Gracie; Shaffer, Terry; Shamblin, Kaelyn; Skiles, Dillon; Smith, Adrian; Smith, Alec; Smith, Ashley^; Smith, Grace; Smith, Kameron; Smith, Matthew; Smith III, William; Spencer III, Larry; Staats, Justin^; Stanley, Chloe; Stanton, Patrick; Stone, Madyson*; Stover, Autum; Stover, Keshawn; Stutler, Keira; Swisher, Miranda; Tayengco, Bryce+; Tucker, Brandon*; Turner, Aaron; VanMeter, Sierra*; Veroski, Kristin*; Walker, Chase; Walker, Cole; Wallace, Dominic; Wallace, Jessica; Wallis, Zachary; Wamsley, Robert*; Warden, Alexandria*; Wesney, Keiara; Whittington, Samantha*; Whittington, Todd; Wickline, Katelyn^; Willoughby, Emily*; Woodall, Skylar; Woomer, Ashlea+; Workman, Colby; Woyan, Haley.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.