Switzerland County Class of 2017 celebrates commencement

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The Switzerland County High School Class of 2017 had a spectacular warm, sunny day on Saturday afternoon, as the class of 105 seniors participated in commencement ceremonies.

The graduation, held in the high school gym, saw a large crowd, as the ceremony was held this year on Saturday, having been held on Sunday afternoon for the past several years.

The program began with high school Principal Gregg Goewert greeting everyone, and that will be followed by junior class head ushers Brittany Vinup and Emerson Schroer presenting the colors. The traditional processional of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ was played by the Switzerland County High School band under the direction of Jonathan Grice; and the National Anthem will be sung by members of the Switzerland County High School choir.

After the audience was led in the Pledge to the Flag by Class Treasurer Alysa Parr; everyone was welcomed to the ceremony by Class Co-Vice President Kelby Rogers. Class Secretary Melissa Furnish then introduced honored guests in attendance, as well as this year’s class officers.

Those comments were followed by the Baccalaureate address, which was given this year by Mike Jones, who not only serves as the Pastor of Patriot Baptist Church; but also Switzerland County School Superintendent. He was introduced by Summer Dickerson, Class Co-Vice President.

A prayer of invocation was then led by Class Co-President Brody Splain.

Switzerland County High School Director of Guidance Marla Edwards recognized those who have earned academic honors; and also those who had attained National Honor Society recognition at the Southeastern Career Center. She also introduced the Top Ten members of the senior class.

One of the most memorable moments of the graduation, one which brought graduates and the entire audience to its feet, came when members of the Class of 2017 who are entering the military were asked to stand.

Teacher Valerie Smith introduced the members of the National Honor Society; and Edwards introduced Class Salutatorian Melissa Furnish and Class Valedictorian Mackenzie Covington, with Goewert presenting them with honorary medallions in recognition of their accomplishments.

Valedictorian Mackenzie Covington will provide this year’s graduation address on behalf of her classmates. She was introduced by teacher Adam Pietrykowski.

Covington told her classmates that they needed to be brave and to face the world head on, noting that she faced challenges when her mother passed away from cancer before Mackenzie’s freshman year of high school, and how that moment in her life led her to face her fears and step into new directions, including deciding to be a part of the soccer team.

Superintendent Jones then certified the class as meeting the requirements for graduation; and he presented the class with their diplomas, assisted by Principal Goewert.

The commencement ceremony closed with a benediction by Co-President Splain, and then the graduates participated in the time-honored tradition of the turning of the tassels, led by Covington and Splain.

The band then played the Recessional as the new graduates filed out of the gymnasium, where a gathering of family and friends came together in front of the building.