WATER VALLEY – When the seniors of Water Valley High School’s Class of 2020 left for spring break, they never imagined it was their last day of high school or their last time together in a class room due to a global pandemic. This disruption made last Friday’s graduation even more special as the 65 members of the class gathered for the last time to receive their diplomas and reflect on the unusual year.
“We made it here and it’s been a long time coming,” class valedictorian Coulter Clement noted during his address at Bobby Clark Field. Clement, salutatorian Blayne Clark and historian Grant Burress each shared appreciation for school administrators who made the special night a reality.
“Graduation is a culmination of all their hard work. And it is not just for them, it is also a day to celebrate with faculty members who have been with them. It was important to give them the best graduation we could under the circumstances,” Water Valley High School Principal Drew Pitcock shared about ensuring the members of the class would be able to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, the same as previous classes.
The event followed weeks of planning by Pitcock, Superintendent Jerry Williams and faculty members to ensure safety guidelines from the Mississippi Department of Education could be implemented. Class members were spread out across the football field and well-wishers practiced social distancing in the stadium. Attendance was limited to four guests per graduate.
“We, the Class of 2020, experienced a year like no other in history. No one but our graduating class has ever lived or seen a senior year like this,” Clement continued during his valediction. “While that is a very cool story to tell, it does not mean that is was easy. As y’all all know this year was tough, this year was hard, and this year tested us. This year showed us that we take normality for granted.”
Clement also reflected on the very first day of school, when the class members were full of expectations for the upcoming year that would drastically change.
“We were robbed of so many experiences that we have looked forward to for so many years, things like senior prom and senior awards day. There were sports seasons that were canceled, good byes left unsaid and a final walk-through the halls non-existent. I fully believe that because those things were taken away from us, they make the memories of the moments that we did share together so much sweeter,” Clement added.