Not only did Martinsville High School’s Class of 2021 have to adapt to a new way of learning and communicating, it also had to overcome losing contact friends and other obstacles.
“We have missed a lot of opportunities, such as band performances, football games, tennis matches, swim meets, prom, and so much more,” senior representative Katherine Rorrer said.
“Despite these hardships, the Class of 2021 has met these challenges head on by learning new technologies, accepting a new normal, and still working hard to finish up our high school career.
“We have learned the importance of advocating for our own education in the face of adversity,” Rorrer said. “We have survived and thrived during a pandemic. There is nothing that can stop the Class of 2021. I expect nothing but greatness from this year’s graduates. Whether they are going to college or directly into a career, I believe that success will follow each and every one of us.”
Rorrer was among several speakers to address Martinsville High School Class of 2021 during commencement on Saturday, May 21.
Trinity Gravely said, “These past four years of our lives have been nothing but exhausting times, and I am so proud of every single one of you. We didn’t know that last year in March would be the last time we would see each other, and we have been the strongest class because of what we have been through and what we had to deal with here at Martinsville High School.”
The class endured “Zoom meetings every day, the 45-minute tests, the essays we knew didn’t make sense, but we turned them in anyway. We went through all year with no senior activities, no prom and homecoming, no sports, but we made it. We have made it today where we can be together one last time,” Gravely said.
Even though there were challenges, “we have done nothing but become closer as a class over the past four years,” Gravely said. “We have watched each other grow up, from the football, basketball, and soccer games, to the pep rallies and fun activities along the way. But we have done it together.”
Gravely said by meeting the obstacles, the Class of 2021 learned who they are and who they are meant to be.
“We have learned a lot, but we still have a lot to learn,” she said, and ended with a quote attributed to Steve Jobs.
“‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it on someone else’s life. Don’t let the noises of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice, and most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Stay hungry, stay foolish,’” Gravely said.
Martinsville High School Principal Aji Dixon also noted that “our seniors have overcome challenges and adversities to arrive at this very point right now today. We’re proud of the tenacity, dedication, and perseverance of our young people. These young people have overcome challenges and adversities that I’m not so sure other classes might have. I stand here proud and thankful that we’ve had this opportunity to work with our young people,”
Dixon said the class was courageous, resilient, “and has what it takes to be successful. And they will be as long as they keep remembering the perseverance and resiliency that brought them thus far. Martinsville Class of 2021, we love you.”
School Superintendent Dr. Zebedee Talley Jr. said the class did what no one else in his 43 years of education has done.
“You survived a pandemic. Don’t take it lightly. I’m excited about your resilience because it is resilience the characteristic that makes a basketball, or any ball, bounce back when you bounce it,” he said.
“You could have been bitter about this happening during your time that you could not fellowship with your classmates to make memories, that you could not get together for proms or athletic, or other things that you were deprived of,” Talley said.
While there are those who live in rosy gardens, “the real people in your life will tell you this will not be the only pandemic you face,” Talley said. “In life, there will be challenges. In life, things will not go the way you planned. In life, you will have uncertainty, but you cannot give up.
“You proved that you have the metal, the strength, the wherewithal to conquer anything because you graduated from high school, you’ve endured a pandemic, you endured being alone at home, you’ve endured so much,” Talley said. “Certainly, anything else you come into contact with, and conflict within your later years, should be easy for you. I am very proud of you. Other classes can talk about surviving, but you’ve really been a survivor.”
(Individual photos of graduates will be featured in the June 5 edition of Henry County Enterprise.)