Although every graduation includes a mention about how hard the class worked to graduate, Charles Byrd, principal of Magna Vista High School, said the more than 230 graduates were survivors.
“I think it is more than fair to say that no class has worked through, or overcome more, than the group we’re celebrating” today, Byrd said at Saturday’s commencement.
“Perseverance is a powerful word, and it is defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failures, or opposition.” I believe that it is safe for everyone here to acknowledge you have been the perfect model of perseverance for us all,” he said.
“There is a lot to celebrate as the Class of 2021 prepares to leave and become alumni,” Byrd said. “Many of the students attended career academy and received certifications in cosmetology, agriculture sciences, and industrial maintenance and HVAC. Twenty-six of you have received your associates degree from Patrick Henry Community College prior to your high school graduation today.”
Byrd said The Harvest Foundation placed a significant investment in the graduates’ futures, as “78 of you have successfully applied to take advantage” of available funds to receive an associate degree at no cost for their family.
“To date, the graduating Class of 2021 has accumulated $1.6 million in scholarships, tuition assistance, and other forms of financial support. This number continues to grow daily,” he said. “Warriors we’re unbelievably proud of you. In the weeks, months, and years ahead, I challenge you to continue to be innovative and resilient. Keep proving to everyone around you that you can and will be great at anything you attempt.”
Senior Brianna Bitz said the biggest trial the class faced is a world-wide pandemic.
“We have marched through our senior year with Zoom calls and Canvas instead of Friday night lights and normal senior events. Compared to the average senior year, ours has been unique to say the least. We may not have gotten the usual pep rallies, student section chants, and daily walks in the hallway, but we received may lessons, motivations, and many unforgettable memories,” Bitz said.
While it the loss of memories also can be devastating, Bitz said when the perspective is changed, “we are allowed to see blessing we have received through this process. There are going to be many moments in life as we continue growing up where life is going to hit us when we least expect it.”
However, because of this unique senior year, Bitz said the Class of 2021 knows that it is capable of conquering.
“We embody what a Magna Vista warrior is supposed to be: Proud, resilient, and inspiring,” she said.
Kendall Motley said graduates are “quite frankly, the best class that has ever walked through the doors of Magna Vista High School. There have been plenty of trials and tribulations just the year, and I never want to see the Canvas loading screen ever again. But you took the challenge and conquered it.
“I know the past year hasn’t given what it was supposed to give, but I know we all tried to make the best of it. We adopted many new hobbies and skills that I know we never would have discovered had circumstances been different,” she said.
“This next chapter in your life is completely blank. Thankfully, you hold the only pen to use to continue your story. No two stories will be the same,” Motley said. “Class of 2021, enough is enough. It is time to put our silly differences aside and become the leaders this world most desperately needs. It is time for us to put our heads and hearts together and do more good than evil. We are extremely smart and extremely tough.”