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Packed house at West Thomas Stadium witnessed graduation of CHS Class of 2017

ANSLEE MARIANN GAINOUS was one happy young lady Friday night as she and her classmates received their high school diplomas during commencement exercises held at Cairo High School. Anslee was presented her diploma by Grady County Board of Education Chairman Robbie Chaplin, right, and congratulated by School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard, left.

The Cairo High School Class of 2017 marched into West Thomas Stadium as the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” played over the loudspeakers Friday night. The home stands were filled to capacity as parents, siblings, other relatives and friends stood in celebration as they prepared to witness the rite of passage for 255 seniors. Seated at the center of the football field, the seniors were flanked by robed school administrators, teachers, school system officials and members of the Grady County Board of Education.
Cairo High School Principal Chris Lokey welcomed the guests and senior class president Emily Kirkland presided. Kirkland introduced the other class officers, vice president Iesha Wilcox, secretary Tiajah Freeman and treasurer Na’Asia Gurley.
Salutatorian MacKenzie Puckett, who will attend Florida State University on a softball scholarship beginning this fall, encouraged her classmates and compared their journey through high school to a game of softball.
She concluded, “I hope that we all cherish the lessons we have learned throughout high school as well as the numerous memories we’ve made as we move on to our next endeavor. I am proud to have been a part of this 2017 class and I’m certain that all of you will do amazing things in the future. So whatever those things may be, knock ‘em out the park.”
After Puckett recognized special guests, Mr. Lokey acknowledged all 55 honor graduates then the CHS Senior Ensemble, under the direction of Michael Inlow, sang “You Raise Me Up.” The ensemble included Michael Bentley, Trey Bentley (soloist), Skyler Collins, Janae’ Demps, Tyesha Hudson, Shelbie Jordan, Amber Loyd, Brooke Merkison, Rachelle Smith, Amber Young. Brendan Forrest was a guest bass vocalist.
Co-Valedictorian Ayzia Nichole Bogan said life is like a roller coaster ride with graduation night the top of the first big hill.
“After graduation, as our roller coaster begins to descend at 90 miles per hour, our eyes may fill with water, our lungs may scream for air, and our hearts may drop with feelings of doubt, but we can’t just be satisfied with coasting along as if the ride is over. We have to keep our momentum going in order to reach the next peak. Yes, the climb may be scary, yet we cannot let the fear of change keep us from doing our best,” Bogan said.
Co-Valedictorian Madison Catrett said what they had learned together from textbooks all these years has really helped them form their personal self. “Remember to fight against injustice and to stand up for your beliefs, even in the midst of criticism. Remember that you are not alone; there is someone else in this world who feels the same way you are feeling right now. Use that knowledge to empathize and connect with other people. Remember that there is more than one way to solve a problem; yours is not always the only way or the right way. And that’s okay. Most importantly, remember that you matter. You have a skill or talent that helps you complete a job better than anyone else can. Rather than wasting time wishing you could be someone else, just be you, do what you do best, and be proud of it.”
Dr. Kermit Gilliard, superintendent of Grady County Schools, joined Lokey on the stage as the graduates were called by Assistant Principal Michael Best to come forward and receive their diplomas. Members of the board of education assisted in this honor.
With diplomas in hand, the new graduates led the audience in singing the CHS Alma Mater and Mr. Lokey presented the graduates who turned their tassels to indicate their status as graduates, then promptly tossed their mortarboards into the air.
Families and guests were invited to meet their graduate on the field for personal pictures and congratulations.
Those assisting in the ceremony were senior class counselor Julie York; senior class advisors Tonya Romans and Hank Smith; school board members Robbie Chaplin (chairman), John White (vice chairman), Teresa Gee Harris, Laura Register and Jeff Worsham; CHS administrators Tammy Donalson, Tom Fallaw, Dr. Gloria Fuller, Todd Gainous and Chief Andrew Jones.
Honor graduates for the Class of 2017 are Jacob Aaron Adams; Josue Daniel Alba-Lopez; Mary Grace Beall; William Jerry Bentley; Isaac Alexander Bivins; Rhyan Everly Brice; Madison Grace Brown; Junnesha Mikayla Cason; Lauryn Evelyn Cathey; Skyler Carmen Collins; Erin Lee Connell; Spencer Bennett Cooper; Matthew Ryan Cromer; Hannah Brooke Dentz; Katherine Alyse Dorris; Read Edward Elliott; Viana Elizabeth Garcia; MaKenna Paige Gilliard; Roselia Gomez; Na’Asia Mahogony Gurley; Emerson Christian Hancock; Delilah Gaye Harrell; Seth Harrell Hurst; Carolina de Jesus Jimenez de La Cruz; Shelbie Lynn Jordan; Emily Grace Kirkland; Samantha Sue Lemire; Caitlyn Elizabeth Logue; Jailene Lopez Verdugo; Hannah Laura Maxwell; Leigh Audrey Mobley; Lydia Kay Mobley; Eddie Morales; Sarah Emily Moses; Kimber Malone Ouzts; Bridget Renae Paramore; Ashley Cyan Phelps; Christopher Cole Phillips; Noah Harrison Phillips; Mara Lynn Pickles; Madison Elise Pyles; Lauryn Faith Ransom; Nyesha Lakendra Ross; ZyKerria DaQuoya Siler; Makenzie Brooke Smith; Megan Brooke Strickland; Caila Paige Whigham; Emily Blythe White; Hannah Michaela Wilde; Jason Rebel Williams; Fuller John Wind II, and Amber Jadele Young.
“We are so proud of the 2017 graduates of Cairo High School. These students have a bright future ahead of them as they go out into the world to become Difference-Makers. We wish them all the best as they step into the next chapter of their lives,” Lokey says. “We also appreciate all the teachers who played a part in helping our students achieve their goals.”

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