It seems like just yesterday that Grace Mann was starting her first day of high school. At least that is how her mother, Krystin, sees it.
On June 13, the Salem High Class of 2019, featuring 309 graduates, received their high school diplomas at the Salem Civic Center.
Not even the calmest of parents can accurately predict how they will react when they see their child walk across the stage.
“We moved here her sophomore year from the Turks and Caicos Islands. The first day of school was full of worry for me with her going to a completely foreign environment and not knowing anyone. Graduation was so different as we watched her hug friends and share some laughs with former teachers,” Krystin said. “She really worked hard in her academics and made an effort to find friends and activities that suited her. I know that experience will do well for her as she goes on to Virginia Tech.”
Many parents and family members took out their cameras as soon as their relatives walked out on the floor. Clair Skidmore also wasn’t sure how she would react to seeing her niece, Kinsey Ebel, walk across the stage.
“Everything felt so surreal. I knew she was graduating, but at the same time, it felt that I wasn’t seeing what I was witnessing. It’s hard to put into words just how proud I am of her,” Skidmore said.
Within seconds of addressing her fellow graduates on stage, Ayzah Burnette, Co-President of the Student Council Association, started crying.
“We could never be so thankful to graduate with the best group of people in the world. And if I’m being honest, I’m scared to do this without you guys,” said Burnette as tears came down her face. “This is home for us. This will always be home. We did it!”
For Luke Grinnell, winning a state championship in football his junior year ranks among his most cherished high school memories. He will continue to play football at Ferrum College in the fall and plans to major in Physical Therapy.
“Mrs. Johnson, Chef Shupe, Coach Trimmy and Mrs. Shannon were some of my favorite teachers. They all helped me get to where I am today, and for that, I am forever grateful,” he said. “What I will remember most about high school is always having the support from classmates, family and friends. I hope that continues in the future.”
There is only one thing that Kinsey Ebel regrets about high school: not trying more things outside of her comfort zone.
“Nevertheless, I feel that Salem High has prepared me for the next chapter of my life. My ultimate goal is to just have joy and peace. I hope to remodel and flip houses one day,” said Ebel, who plans on majoring in Building Construction.
Sometimes the fear of failure prevents people from chasing their dreams. Principal Habeeb encouraged the Class of 2019 to not put limits on themselves.
“It’s an honor to serve as the principal for this community’s high school. The journey of these graduates has been full of ups and downs, but it has had a lot of ups,” he said. “Nothing is stopping you all from reaching your full potential. I’m excited to see what is to come in the future.”