POINT PLEASANT — Seniors from Point Pleasant High School, and their friends and families, braved Saturday’s heat to attend the 123rd annual commencement ceremony held on the football field.
In all, 178 students received diplomas with the ceremony beginning with a rendition of the National Anthem from the PPHS All-State Choir members. Sarah Deem, student council president, then gave the welcome.
“Unlike other classes, we are family, a family who truly loves and supports one another in all our endeavors,” Deem said. “In this family, the athletes support us band geeks, who are friends with those academically inclined, who in turn support the theater kids. It’s a continuous circle of friendship and support and that is how I want us to remember the Class of 2019.”
Next, a vocal performance of “Homeward Bound” was presented by the PPHS Vocal Ensemble under the direction of Ethan Bartlett.
Kendra Williams, president of the PPHS National Honor Society then introduced the Summa Cum Laude Student Representatives – Caroline Foreman and Tanner Durst.
“He’s pushed me to be both a better student and a better person,” Williams said of Durst. “He’s been a member of the cross country team for four years and a member of the swim team for two yeas. In the fall, he plans to attend the University of Kentucky to become a general surgeon. It is my pleasure today to introduce our salutatorian as Tanner James Durst.”
Williams continued with her introductions.
“The valedictorian of the Class of 2019 is someone I’ve always truly admired. Her dedication and kind attitude truly show her heart and how much she cares about everything and everyone… She is a four-year member of the Black Knight Marching Band, a four year outstanding tennis player and a two-year member of the award winning color guard. In the fall, she plans to attend Marshall University to study speech pathology. It is an honor today to introduce our valedictorian as Caroline Faith Foreman.”
Durst then gave remarks, thanking family, faculty, staff and classmates for their help in getting him to this moment. Then, the young man who plans on studying to be a general surgeon gave a brief anatomy lesson about the brain and forming connections.
“When we are born, our brains have approximately 100 billion neurons, as we grow and develop, these neurons form connections with one another,” Durst said. “However, from either disuse or as a result of the natural aging process, some of these neurons wither away and these connections are lost. Starting at age twenty, the average human loses about a gram of brain mass every year. This may sound scary but the rest of the brain matter continues to grow, it forms brand new connections, to replace the ones lost. The point I’m trying to make, for those of you who didn’t zone out during the anatomy analogy, is that we should act as our brains do. In the coming months, as we move into the next chapters of our lives, unfortunately, some connections may be lost. Not all those seeking higher education are attending the same institution, and not all those entering the workforce are going to be in contact with one another on a regular basis… We will grow, develop and form brand new connections. I challenge all of you in attendance tonight to push yourself out of your comfort zones. I challenge you to make new connections with people you don’t know, with new places and fields of study or any of the other countless possibilities this life has to offer us. Our growth as human beings should never stop…”
Foreman then gave her remarks.
Saying she was honored to be chosen to represent the Class of 2019, Foreman echoed Durst’s sentiments of thanking those who supported graduates along the way. She then started to evaluate this “milestone moment.”
“The reward for this day will not be found in the diplomas we receive but rather in who it has helped us to become,” she said. “So today let us celebrate together the special events in our lives collectively as classmates and individually with our friends and families.”
Foreman continued: “How can we, the Class of 2019, make a difference in the world we are about to go into? I believe the answer to this question is found in the lessons we have learned here as Point Pleasant Black Knights. So in closing, I wish to share the ‘Knight’s lessons for living an impactful life.’
The K stands for kindness. One thing that school has taught us all is how kindness impacts our lives. We have all been blessed by someone’s kind words or actions and we all in turn have the opportunity to pay this forward. …Kind deeds are never lost because they make a lasting impact.
The N stands for never giving up. Many times in high school we have probably felt like quitting but life rewards those who persevere.
The I stands for integrity. Our time a PPHS has given us the opportunities to develop and demonstrate our integrity. …If we desire to make our mark we must make integrity a priority in every aspect of our lives. Integrity leads to trust and trust will lead to influence and influence allows us to make a difference for good.
The G stands for growth. During our time in high school we have grown physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. …Growth will allow us to become the best versions of ourselves. We also must yearn to learn and improve upon who we are and what we do.
The H stands for humility. Humility is where we consider the other person before we consider ourselves. Philippians 2:3-5, says,’Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.’
The T stands for trust. We have learned to trust our parents, teachers, coaches, band directors, who desire to see us become the best versions of ourselves. We have learned to trust God who loves each of us and has a plan for each of our lives. …We have learned to trust each other and have gained friendships that will last forever.
Class of 2019, let’s go down our new roads and make a difference by always remembering what it means to be a Point Pleasant Black Knight.”
Principal William Cottrill then wished the Class of 2019 well, reciting a poem “The Dash” which has become a tradition for the administrator.
“Seniors as you begin your brigade on life, make sure you take a positive path,” Cottrill said. “Because people will forget your date of birth and death but they will never forget your dash.”
Cottrill then presented the class to Superintendent Jack Cullen, who accepted the class, with Mr. Matthew Cottrill reading the class roll. Mason County Board of Education members were also on hand to congratulate the graduates as they received their diplomas.
A complete list of graduates appears below:
(A letter before the senior’s name denotes the following: “S” indicates Summa Cum Laude, “M” is Magna Cum Laude, and “C” is Cum Laude.)
Kirsten Abrams, (C) Aubrey Alford, Colby Arrington, William Bailes, Bravin Barr, Seth Bates, (S) Cierra Beatty, Natheniel Benson, Courtney Birchfield, McKensey Black, (M) Hannah Blain, Shawn Blake, Garrett Boles, Isaiah Bonecutter, (S) Kenlee Bonecutter, William Boster, Benjamin Browning, Devin Burris, (M) Blayne Butler, (M) Peyton Campbell, Seth Canterbury, Colton Carr, Keaton Carr, Bryce Casey, (S) Vanessa Clark, Caroline Click, Evan Cobb, Lanea Cochran, Ali Coe, (M) Alexandria Craft, Breanna Craig, Rushawn Craig, (S) Andrea Dalton, Kyle Darst, (C) Jordan Daubenmire, Erin Davis, (S) Sarah Deem, Nathaniel Deweese, Haydn Doss.
(C) Olyvia Duncan, Rachel Dunn, (S) Tanner Durst, (S) Amelia Elias, Brittney Ferrell, (S) Seth Fishbaugh, (S) Hannah Fisher, Brandon Flora, (S) Caroline Foreman, Madalynn Forshee, (M) Trevon Franklin, (C) Colton Fridely, Gavin Frush, (M) Kelsa Glover, Hannah Grady, (S) Kyla Grimes, (C) Hannah Grubb, (M) Brianna Haga, James Halfhill, Chelesa Hall, (S) Allison Halley, James Harris, (C) Kaylee Hartley, Aubrey Hatfield, (S) Madison Hatfield, Teagan Hay, Brittany Head, (S) Allison Henderson, Kelsey Hill, Katlyn Hinzman, Destiny Hoffman, Christian Holland, (M) Rylee Holland, Cory Hoover, Tyron Howell, Addison Hughes, Gage Jackson, Gavin Jackson, Brody Jeffers, (C) Andrew Jones, Axyle Jones, Kenon Jones.
Lindsey Kessell, Ryan Kinniard, (S) Alexina Landry, Laura Liegel, William Litchfield, Anthony Machir, Caleb Marin, Chance Martin, Kyle Martin, (M) Olivia Martin, Destiny Matherly, Sara Mattox, Desiree Mayes, (M) Eddie Mayes, Ashleigh Mayfield, Colton McCoy, Zachary McFall, Breanna McGraw, Scott McMahill, (C) Dakota McNutt, (M) McKayla Meadows, Levi Mitchell, (M) Katelyn Moody, (M) Sydnee Moore, Ryan Mullinex, James Musgrave, (C) Aspen Neville, Winter Nibert, Olivia Norris, (M) Mickayla Norville, Mariah Nowlin, Alexus Painter, Abbagyale Parsons, (S) Cason Payne, Miranda Payne, Jasper Pearson, Collin Peterson, Haley Pierson, (S) Christopher Pinkerton.
(S) Kauri Porter, Megan Pursley, Christopher Reed, Brianna Reymond, Dante Rhodes, Justin Rice, Richard Rice, Austin Richardson, (C) Rhiannon Rife, Paula Rodiquez, Nicholas Rogers, (C) Ariat Rollins, (C) Katelyn Roush, Tristen Roush, (S) Hayley Russell, Salem Russell, Christopher Rutledge, Derek Salyers, Madison Sayre, Adriane Sharp, (S) Jacob Shull, Blake Siders, Eric Slack, Carter Smith, Ian Smith, Noah Smith, (S) George Smith, Jr., Olivia Synder, Morgan Spencer, (C) Tyler Stanley, Carley Stapleton, Cheyanne Stapleton, Brianna Stevens, Desire Stone, Gage Stover, (M) Jeremiah Stover, Katja Suwald, (M) Carson Taylor, (M) Bailey Thomas, Makayla Thomas.
Dustin Thompson, Garrett Thompson, Marley Thompson, Nancy Vettese, Hannah Waldron, Hannah Wamsley, (C) Joshua Wamsley, Samantha Wamsley, (C) Alexis Lovejoy-Watkins, Carl White, (S) Kendra Williams, (M) Miles Williams, Jennifer Williamson, (C) Dawson Wilson, (M) Luke Wilson, Jimmie Wood, (S) Savanah Wroten, Aaron Zabrieszack.
Senior Class President Kauri Porter then led the changing of the tassels to end the commencement.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.