On the evening of Thursday May 27, more than 200 graduating seniors from Dawson County High School walked across the football field in the DCHS Tiger Stadium to celebrate one last event with their alma mater: the 2021 graduation ceremony.
During the ceremony, several graduating seniors gave speeches, as well as DCHS Principal Michael Negley and Superintendent Damon Gibbs. All the seniors then took turns walking across the stage to receive their diplomas amidst cheering and applause from friends and family in the stands of the packed stadium.
In her speech to the graduating seniors, Negley applauded the students for their hard work and dedication and advised them to never stop learning, to not be afraid of failure and to always remember where they came from.
“Whatever you do and wherever you settle, remember one thing: once a tiger, always a tiger,” Negley said. “It’s time to spread your wings, class of 2021, but never forget about your roots.You will always be in my heart and on my mind and I will continue to pray daily for each and every one of you.”
Class of 2021 Valedictorian Annsley Anglin echoed what Negley said, reminding her classmates to always remember their time at Dawson County High School, wherever they may go in life. Anglin thanked her fellow classmates, teachers, family and friends but said that her biggest thanks goes to God, who led her to where she is today.
“Although I’m the one standing before you today, God is the one that got me here; He has led me on this path of life that has proven to be extraordinarily planned out, and I have no doubts that He has great plans for each of us,” Anglin said. “Whether you are continuing on with your education, going to work or taking any other path, always remember to put God first so that you may retain a relationship with Him and recognize the many blessings that He has bestowed upon all of us.”
In her speech, Class of 2021 Salutatorian Kailee LeBel told her fellow graduating classmates to make sure to live with one foot in the present so that they have no regrets as they move into their next stage of life.
“My most recent musical obsession Olivia Rodriguez stated once in a song, 'nothing’s forever and nothing’s as good as it seems'; and these lines hit me right in the heart cause they are the one piece of advice I so wish I could have given myself four years ago,” LeBel said. “While I implore all of you to work hard and succeed in your future endeavors, I also encourage you to know what it is to balance, to work hard and play hard, because nothing is forever.”
Gibbs closed the speeches with his commencement address, congratulating the students on their achievement, especially after the past 15 months which were unlike any other.
“Each of you have overcome significant challenges this past year, you have proven that you can do anything,” Gibbs said. “Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in you and more importantly this community believes in you.”
Gibbs told the graduates that, while their senior year may have been unprecedented because of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, he is incredibly proud of their ability to adapt and to succeed despite any of the challenges they have faced.
Gibbs also advised the Class of 2021 to learn from their mistakes, not to make assumptions about people, not to put too much stock in social media, not to let the world tell them what’s right and wrong, look for answers in the Bible, and do their best and be kind to everyone.
“I’m very proud of this class and I’m extremely optimistic about what you will accomplish moving forward,” Gibbs said.
Following the commencement speeches, the receiving of diplomas and the moving of the graduates’ tassels from right to left, DCHS put on a fireworks show to end the graduation ceremony.