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Friday, May 6, 2016

New horizons, lasting memories: Grads walk the aisle

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Community High School senior Travis Richardson gives his mother, Jolie, a rose and a hug during the graduation ceremonies Friday night at Calsonic Arena. Watching is Travis' father Roger.
(T-G Photo by Jim Davis)
Each of Bedford County's public schools held commencement ceremonies this weekend. In all, 532 students passed a milestone toward adulthood.

Community High School, which graduated 115 seniors, held ceremonies Friday evening. Shelbyville Central High School saw 286 graduate at Calsonic Arena on Saturday morning. Cascade High School announced 131 graduates Saturday night.

"I am very proud of the Class of 2012 and their accomplishments over the past four years," said Don Embry, principal of SCHS.

Graduates arrive each May, but some groups of seniors are memorable "This class was a very strong academic group," said Principal Robert Ralston of his Community class.

"This 2012 class will be missed. As one instructor shared with me, there are a handful of classes that he could recall in his career that made their mark and are remembered for years to come. This is one of those groups.'"

In memory

A pair of seniors whose lives were lost earlier this year were remembered.

Todd Alexander Zills drowned at Normandy Lake in April. His Central High classmates wore a yellow ribbon on their gowns in his memory, and a memorial flower arrangement was placed at the base of the podium.

The graduating class at Cascade High School is remarkable, in part, because of the large group of 33 students who have been classmates in the Cascade area since kindergarten.

These seniors lost one of their group to an automobile accident in March. The memory of Kevin Andrew Hasty was honored with a white bow in an empty chair, and each graduate also wore a small blue ribbon.

Cascade seniors

Sharon Edwards, who was principal of Cascade Elementary before assuming her current position as principal of Cascade High School, has a unique perspective on this class.

"It's a special privilege for me to have the opportunity to watch our graduates grow and mature from the first days they entered kindergarten until they graduate from high school, especially the 13-year seniors," Edwards said.

According to Edwards, this class provided laughs as well, tagging each door in the school's building with sticky notes as part of their senior prank.

Central honor

Jason Teal and Amber Millenbine join in a celebratory hug after the close of graduation ceremonies for 286 Shelbyville Central High School seniors.
(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons)
SCHS received a special honor at the end of commencement. Bedford County school superintendent Ray Butrum presented the inaugural Fist of Knowledge award, a trophy for the school which achieves the highest percentage of graduates from the beginning to end of the senior school year.

The final tally was a near-tie, with only five-tenths of a percent separating the three schools. Of those students enrolled on the first Monday following the fall break, 96.9 percent of SCHS seniors completed requirements for graduation. Cascade ranked second with 96.5, and Community third at 96.4.

"I couldn't believe how close it was," said Butrum when the results were calculated.

Graduation pays off

Bedford County schools have increased their focus on graduation rates this year. This year's numbers are not a correlation to the state's graduation rate for the county, as that number counts the students who enter in the freshman class and exit the same school as a graduate.

According to information provided by Edwards, Cascade seniors were awarded $1.5 million in scholarships this year.

Look for education pages on Sunday, June 3, which will include honor and scholarship winners from each school as well as a list of county honor rolls.