Coosa Valley graduates 24 on day of 48th commencement

By WILLIAM MARLOW / Special to the Reporter

Coosa Valley Academy’s 48th graduating class was honored at a commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 13, at the school’s high school football field.

Headmaster Pamela Lovelady began the ceremony by welcoming those in attendance and recognizing all 24 graduates individually for their accomplishments during such an unprecedented year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This group has accomplished all of their goals because of our teachers, parents, grandparents, friends and everyone that supported us this year. These students will be making a difference in our lives forever, and I am so proud of them, and I am so proud at how they have taken care of each other this year,” Lovelady said.

Being a smaller class than most, Lovelady said that she had grown especially close to this year’s class of graduates, many of whom she had known since they first enrolled at the school 12 years ago. Lovelady shared standout moments from each student’s time at school and characteristics that she associates with them.

She particularly noted the class’s perseverance during the pandemic as well as acknowledged the faculty, staff and parents that had supported the graduates throughout such a turbulent academic year.

Lovelady said she expects nothing but greatness from this year’s graduating class going forward and cited the $1.2 million in scholarships earned by the class as proof of the graduates’ talent and academic achievement.

Lovelady specifically praised graduate Arihana Martinez for her academic accomplishments, who earned more than $150,000 in scholarships.

Both of the Class of 2021’s valedictorians, Kaley Archer and Alex Carlee, led the school’s commencement addresses.

Archer was also this year’s recipient of the Betty Watts Outstanding Athlete and Student Award for maintaining both high academic excellence and athletic achievement. Archer served on both school’s girl volleyball and softball teams.

She described her final year of high school as bittersweet, and said she is excited for the new chapter in her life that is beginning, but will miss her fellow classmates and teachers.

“We worked hard to get where we are today and we are really excited, but I am also really sad at the same time. I am excited to turn the page and start a new chapter in our lives, but I am sad to leave this chapter behind,” Archer said. “Some of us had been together since kindergarten, some since elementary school, and only a year or two for others, but one thing is sure: we have some really good times, some unforgettable memories, and built friendships that will last a lifetime.”

In her salutatory address, Carlee took time to remind her classmates that success is just as much about living a good life as it is achieving high test scores, awards, college degrees or job titles, and advised her classmates to focus on fulfilling their greater purpose as they embark on the next phase of their journey.

“None of those things truly label who you are as a person. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the stress and anxiety of maintaining the world’s definition of success, and miss out on living our lives to the fullest,” Carlee said. “I believe a person is defined by their character, and the way you treat people defines you, and the things that you love define you. Success is living every day to the fullest and making the most of what you have in the moment.

Honor student Cameron Knecht, and Salutatorian Brody Greene also made commencement speeches.