Members of Martinsville High School’s Class of 2019 helped the city school system improve its performance on the state Standards of Learning tests and achieve full accreditation, according to School Superintendent Zeb Talley.
Addressing the graduates at their commencement exercises on Saturday, May 25, Talley noted that when he became superintendent three years ago, none of the city schools were accredited by the state.
This year’s seniors were sophomores then, and “they were smart; they buckled down” and improved the school’s results on the Standards of Learning tests, he said.
Now, according to preliminary results, all the city schools have been accredited for three years, he said.
“They proved the state SOL gets couldn’t defeat them,” he said, urging the graduates to “keep that vision. … This (graduation) is a stepping stone. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
Talley was joined on the program by MHS Principal Aji Dixon; Nigal Devonta Davis, who led the Pledge of Allegiance; the school band; Symphonic Band; and Gospel Choir.
Dixon urged students to understand that “how you live is always more important than where you live” and more important than how long you live. He added that there is more reward in service to others than making a lot of money.
“Do everything with excellence,” he added, noting that the Class of 2019 amassed $1.65 million in scholarships and financial aid.
Students speakers were senior class President Taylar Alexzandrea Brown, who gave the welcome, and Priyansi Behaves Patel, senior representative, who spoke on “Bulldog Vision.”
Brown said the past four years had gone quickly as the students changed from “clueless” freshmen into young adults now embarking on new journeys. She said she hopes her classmates will meet their challenges and achieve their goals.
“Just getting by is not acceptable,” she added.
Students will measure their high school careers in friendships, not semesters or even years, Brown said.
“Rise up and go after your dreams,” she added.
Patel echoed the sentiments of many of her classmates when she announced, “We made it!”
She also noted how they had changed in four years, and said high school is a “collective group of memories,” including the broken air conditioning system, tests, teachers and more.
The future will provide endless opportunities, Patel said, and she urged the others to change challenges into opportunities.
“We are the best class of MHS,” she said to thunderous applause from her fellow graduates. She cited their accomplishments in sports, robotics, band, clubs and other areas and suggested the graduates salute those who helped them grow.
“Follow your dreams, never forget who you are and give back to the community,” she said. “Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog.”
Diplomas were awarded to the students by Dixon with assistance from assistant principals Clarence Simington and Teresa Davis as well as Martinsville School Board members.
Graduates named to the Superintendent’s List for having a 4.0 cumulative grade point average or higher included: Maurice Harold Bell IV, DeMaya Nyteria Bradley, Brown, Alayna Jane Campbell, Davis, LaTroya Denay Gravely, Jose Dominique Hairston, William Ruffin Jarrett, Emily Jose Santiago, Tyler Brett Lawless, Michael Tristan Mase, Nathalie Ortiz Mateos, Murray Elliana McGovern, Patel, John Ainsley Phillips, Brennan Scott Richardson, Guadalupe Rivera, Allie Katherine Robinson, Aidan Tanner Self, James Michael Sigmon, Mirayah Janae Stone, Tyrese Tyshawn Vaughan, Cierra Nichole Warren and Jameka Reyna Wilson.