Potential and Purpose: SCHS graduates class of 2021

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Shelby County High School celebrated the academic excellence of their graduating class of 2021 at their commencement ceremony on May 24 at the Papa McCombs Stadium.

The students of this class faced a world plagued by a global pandemic, but still managed to look optimistically toward the future with purpose and optimism. Student Government Association Executive President Savanah Tarwater reminisced on the years they spent together at SCHS and what I meant to finish this year strongly, despite these challenges.

“COVID may have taken away much of our senior year, but we did not allow it to take away the entire year,” Tarwater said. “We were able to have a homecoming and through the community we were able to have prom. We made the best of what we could and fun doing it. I hope all of us can look back on our high school year and instead of focusing with sadness on what we may not have gotten, view with happiness what we had.”

Tarwater continued, “I know a lot us have been looking forward to this day so that we can say we are done with high school, but I think it is safe to say that a lot of memories have been made through school, athletics and just being around our friends.”

SCHS had a graduating class of 99 seniors, which included salutatorian Zachary Robinson and valedictorian Ella Russell.

Russell addressed the attendees at the commencement ceremony focusing heavily on the impact that the teachers at SCHS made on each of the students.

“Our faculty, with their generosity and resilience, aided us with our personal growth and inspired us to challenge ourselves in order to unveil our potential and purpose,” Russell said. “Our school’s faculty stepped up to the plate to demonstrate their care with immediate concern with the status of their students to ensure their well-being. They share their knowledge, time and experience to help students and the whole community. They demonstrate how we should treat each other and be there for each other through thick and thin. They display selfless qualities and demonstrate moral and ethical excellence.”

Russell went on to express how resilient her fellow students were and looked optimistically toward the future for each of them.

“While our class is by no means perfect, we are comprised of motivated students with unbounded potential,” Russell said. “With many already obtaining job experience and some with a head start on their careers, our class is sure to leave an impact on the community.”

SCHS has a tradition of letting their valedictorian present the Golden Apple Award to the teacher the class valedictorian has identified as making the most significant impact on their educational process over the past 12 years. Russell chose Chris Baker, who she had in both ninth and twelfth grade.

This class, like the one before it, faced a multitude of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but managed to face it head on with determination and optimism. As they received their diplomas and left the football stadium, they looked forward to a future of endless possibilities.

Photos available for purchase at Shelbycountyphotos.com.