‘It’s so hard to say goodbye’: Calera High School graduation celebrates the class of 2022

Published 11:13 am Friday, May 27, 2022

By MEG HERNDON | Staff Writer

PELHAM – After a day that was initially filled with uncertainty, the Calera High School class of 2022 marched steadfastly into the next phase of their life during Calera’s graduation commencement ceremony.

The ceremony took place on Tuesday, May 24 and was originally set to take place at Calera’s Ricky M. Cairns Stadium. However, due to inclement weather, the event setting went through multiple changes until it was decided that it would be held at the Pelham Civic Complex

Calera High School’s Principal Christopher Myles spoke to the class, commending them for overcoming all the obstacles they have faced along their four-year journey.

“COVID has not been fun, and it has been very difficult to maneuver,” Myles said. “Your class however has done so with respect and dignity, even all the way to today. Your resilience is what I remember most about this class.”

Myles also shared that the class of 2022 earned $8,710,121 in scholarships and had 19 honor graduates who maintained a 4.0 or higher GPA during their four years of high school.

Valedictorian Kelly Bush reflected on the bittersweet feelings that come along with graduation and leaving the familiar behind while quoting Hannah Montana’s song “I’ll Always Remember You.”

“I always knew this day would come/We’d be standing one by one/With our future in our hands/So many dreams, so many plans/I always knew after all these years/There’d be laughter, there’d be tears/But never thought I’d walk away/With so much joy, but so much pain/And it’s so hard to say ‘goodbye’”

“We’ve always been looking forward to this day since we found out what graduation even was,” Bush said. “All the countdowns, the many last days of school. Here we are… ready to walk across the stage, get a diploma and sit down.”

Referencing the tears and laughter mentioned in the song, Bush reminisced about the many tears shed among the class due to events such as COVID-19, losing class Olympics and watching their favorite teachers leave, but they also shared a lot of laughter filled moments.

“Some of us never thought we’d make it to this day, let alone leave all your classmates behind and possibly never see them again,” Bush said. “We came to school every day, seeing the same kids you’ve seen basically your entire life, and then after today, poof, you never see each other again. But today is a joyous day celebrating our accomplishments of making it through high school.”

“And it’s so hard to say goodbye,” Bush referenced the final line of the song. “Goodbyes are hard but I’m sure a lot of y’all are ready to be done. I can’t wait to see all y’all at our 10-year reunion.”

During her speech, Salutatorian Abigail Snyder called for her classmates to remember to be kind to one another and remember that there is always another person on the other side of their screens.

After seeing how her brother who is on the autism spectrum was treated growing up, Snyder has pushed for those around her to be more sympathetic and understanding of those around them.

“Your words matter,” Snyder said. “Use them wisely. I’ve been told by many that, ‘It’s really not that deep,’ but I think it is, It is that deep. Each and every one of you has the ability to make a difference in this world and positively impact others. We are all worthy of love and respect.”

Snyder closed her speech with a reminder that her parents have always told her that she wanted to share in hopes of it helping her classmates.

“There’s enough sun for every flower,” Snyder said. “Disappointment builds character, not everything is going to go your way so I hope you all find the fortitude, or the therapist, to help keep you going.”

Snyder also reminded everyone to “be a light in a world facing so much darkness.”

Mabrey Layne Marsalis was the featured commencement speaker. The Calera native attended Calera Schools from kindergarten to graduation as a member of the class of 2014. Marsalis graduated from the University of Montevallo with a bachelor’s of science degree in elementary education and completed her master’s of education in May 2020.

She currently serves as a kindergarten teacher at Calera Elementary school, and 2022 marked her fifth year of teaching, three of which she taught first grade, and the other two have been teaching kindergarten.

“From your very first school experience to this very moment in your high school career, school has been all you’ve ever really known, school has been a part of your everyday life for all these years,” Marsalis said. “Although this moment is one of the most exciting in your life, it can also bring about feelings of uncertainty and lots of questions.”

Marsalis encouraged the students to not let all the questions and uncertainty that they have intimidate them, instead, she told the students to embrace them. The uncertainty will become their new normal. Marsalis shared four pieces of advice to navigate their future new normal.

Marsalis emphasized that there is such a thing at being too prepared.

“Let me be the first to tell you, it’s OK not to have it all figured out,” Marsalis said. “It’s OK not to know your exact next steps at this exact moment. Sometimes the best outcomes come from the surprises that we could have never planned for. Sometimes you don’t know what the best next steps are for you until they’re presented to you.”

Next, Marsalis told the graduates to go with the flow, a motto she uses in her own classroom every year.

“The curveballs and surprises are much more bearable, and sometimes enjoyable if you surrender to the moment, live in it, embrace it and smile and laugh through it,” she said.

She then shared her family motto, do not have any I-wish-I-would’ve’s. Marsalis said not to back down from any potential experiences, opportunities or friendships because of self-doubt, fear or insecurity.

“Give yourself the best chance you can at creating a life that you love,” Marsalis said.

Finally, Marsalis told the class of 2022 not to forget their home.

“Calera High School will always be the home from which you all share this moment,” Marsalis said, “You may not agree now, but give it time and you will come to realize the magic of your home, Calera High School.”