POINT PLEASANT — Though it was a month later than normal and there were no paper programs, handshakes or throwing of caps at the end, the Point Pleasant High School Class of 2020 had its day on Friday, as the school hosted its 124th commencement. PPHS also integrated its annual “Class Night” festivities into the ceremony as well.
Complying with health guidelines meant to keep students and the public safe, PPHS handed out 156 diplomas at the in-person graduation.
Graduates entering the football field was a familiar sight, though each graduate was placed feet apart upon being seated. Senior Morgan K. Miller performed the National Athem, followed by Student Council President Kasey Lyons delivering the welcome. National Honor Society Vice President Jenna Synder then introduced the Summa Cum Laude student representatives, Kaylee Nott and Dylan Tayengco, who graduated first and second in the class, respectively.
Tayengco spoke first.
“When they first postponed graduation, I knew that the ceremony would not be the same,” he said. “I feared that us being here today wouldn’t really mater. I feared that we’d just been swept under the rug and that we would just be here today only for the world to forget about us tomorrow…
“Problems arise in life when we do not expect them…so with everyday leading up to this moment, I began to realize this ceremony does not define the Class of 2020. We are not the kids who are going to be forgotten…if there’s anything that today shows, it’s that the fear and apprehension that we once held was only temporary, because the situation and the challenges of 2020 may not have changed but we did…
“…I promise you that we will not be remembered because of the events that defined this year, we will be remembered as the class that came together despite the challenge, because there is something here, so much bigger than our diploma, something so much more than just our cap and our gown…we stand here before you not just as graduates but as a promise, a promise for a better tomorrow.”
Nott then spoke and like Tayengco, thanked those who helped get her to this point in life, including family, friends and teachers.
She recalled being in the third grade and having the opportunity to skip two grades to possibly graduate early.
“As a wise eight-year old, I decided to remain in my class with my friends because I believed 2020 would be a great year to graduate…boy was I wrong,” she joked. “But I don’t regret my decision.
“As we graduate with our country in economic ruins and America at odds with itself, many are afraid, but we should not be because it is not what we have faced that determines our future but the lessons we learned from previous generations to guide us. Because of our adversity, I believe the Class of 2020 will be able, loving and accepting. We will not back down from the fight but we will also not instigate it.
“We will love our neighbor and we will create a time of prosperity for our children. We will act everyday for a better tomorrow and we will be successful because it’s the struggle that drives innovation. We will be the game changers…and we will not stress the inevitable but instead, appreciate every moment with one another because as we have learned from this virus, our time together is precious and can be taken away.
“We can do this because our class is different…these brutal times arrived only to our benefit.”
Then, Principal William Cottrill presented the class to Superintendent Jack Cullen but not before reciting “The Dash” by Lou Holtz, which has become a tradition.
Teacher Mattew Cottrill then read the list of graduates as each was recognized and came forward to receive their diplomas.
Honor students were given bronze, silver and gold cords to designate academic excellence as follows: (*) Bronze and Cum Laude designation, 3.5-3.8 overall grade point average; (^) Silver and Magna Cum Laude designation, 3.81-4 overall grade point average; (+) Gold and Summa Cum Laude designation, 4.01 or better grade point average.
A complete list of graduates, as found in the official PPHS commencement program is as follows:
Nazar Abbas +, Alexis Abrams, Brady Adkins, Grace Allensworth *, Kaitlyn Atkins, Nathan Barth, Nathaniel Bing, James Blain, Christina Bonecutter, Gregory Bonecutter, III, Alex Bryan, Kayle Burris ^, Gavyn Buskirk *, Samantah Canterbury, Rebeka Casey ^, Carson Chambers *, Haleigh Chapman, Logan Cochran, Monica Cook +, Justin Cornell, Isaac Daniels +, Hope Derenberger, Silas DeWeese, Blake Diddle, Olivia Dotson *, Cheyenne Durst, Remington Durst ^, Ethan Elias, Kaydean Eta ^, Jarred Fairchild, Alex Fetty, Zachary Forbush, Danielle Fultz *, Aleah Gerwig *, Hannan Gleason, Lauren Gritt ^, Austin Hadley, Gabriel Hall, Ally Harper *.
Lathan Harrison, Amber Hatfield ^, Garrett Hatten +, Penelope Haught, Joseph Herdman, Jacob Hesson, Caleb Higginbotham, Christian Hill, Josie Hill +, Haleigh Hodge *, Alexis Holland, Logan Holland, Peyton Hughes +, Jonathan Jeffers *, Bailey Johnson, Haliegh Johnson, Jovone Johnson ^, Mariah Jones +, Kassidy Jordan +, Peyton Jordan +, McKeehan Justus *, Sierra Kelly, Karly Kearns ^, Mark Kincaid, II *, Izabella King +, Kyle Kinnaird, Robert Kirby, II, Zara La Favers *, Autumn Lambert, Kyleigh Leach, Hannah Lee, Jacob Lee, Silas Lee, Joseph Leport, Nicholas Lepart, Ryan Liptrap, Anna Litchfield *, Tiffany Litchfield, Tristan Litchfield, Cameron Long.
Kasey Lyons +, Juan Marquez, Kelly Marr, Alexis Martin, Jacob Matheny, Clairissa Mattox, Jamie Mayes, Jr. *, Cameron McCarty, Haley Milhoan ^, Charles Miller, Morgan K. Miller ^, Morgan R. Miller ^, Wyatt Moffitt, Claire Moran, Lacie Mullins *, Jacob Muncy +, Emily Nibert, Kaylee Nott +, Elijah Ortagus, Austin Parsons-Lee, Nicholas Parsons, Elizabeth Paul, Colton Pearson *, Tristan Pearson ^, Zoe Pearson +, Madison Pennycook, Kevin Perkins, Christian Phoenix, Amy Plants, Owen Pratt, Zachary Rediger *, Garrett Rollins, Tyler Runion, Raelee Rymer +, Zachary Samson, Aidan Sang, Carlee Sang +, Samantha Saunders +, Brady Sayre *, Ethan Scott.
Sidney Shaffer, Levi Smith, Nicholas Smith ^, Isaiah Synder, Jenna Synder +, Logan Southall, Kyle Spires, Hannah Spurlock, Ashley Staats +, Wyatt Stanley *, Caleb Stewart *, Shala Swain, Ian Tarbett, Taylor Tatterson +, Dylan Tayengco +, Bryan Taylor, Peyton Taylor ^, Damon Thompson, Charles Thornton, Kara Topping +, Blake Towe, Steven Trent, Shyanna Utterback, Jeremy Wallace, Steven Wamsley *, Dakota Ward, Kameron Weaver, Owen Weethee, Adyen Whalen, Nala Williams, Quintin Wolford, Carley Woyan, Tanner Wright, Braxton Yates *, Cohen Yates +, Caiden Young.
Senior Class President Jenna Snyder then led the changing of the tassels, though due to health concerns related to COVID-19, no caps were thrown. The class exited the football field to the senior song, “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart.
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.