Vincent’s Class of 2024 celebrates journey, looks to future at graduation

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

VINCENT – Friends and family lined every inch of the stands at Vincent Middle High School’s football stadium on Tuesday, May 21 to celebrate the graduation of Vincent’s Class of 2024 and the accomplishments of the students they had connections to.

For VMHS principal Lauren Yancey, her connection to the class is special because it is the first that she has been with all four years. She remarked on just how far the Class of 2024 has come.

“There’s something really special about watching a group of students transform from young, unsure, sometimes awkward middle schoolers to confident, self-assured, poised young adults,” Yancey said.

That journey was something salutatorian Mattson Davis touched on in his speech.

From the uncertainties of freshman year in 2020 multiplied by having to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic to the highlights in the hallways, on the field and in the community in the past four years.

“We’ve had plenty of ups and downs, plenty of crazy experiences, not all of them pleasant, but the most important thing is that we were together,” Davis said.

Davis said that each of those moments, whether high or low, has helped tighten the connections that he and his classmates share, and those bonds are one of his favorite parts of living in Vincent.

“Failure has taught us how to grow, and over these four years, we have grown together,” Davis said. “That is one thing I love about Vincent–the feeling of knowing everyone. It feels like one big family. The bonds are stronger.”

Within that big family of fellow classmates, Davis said that each person within it brought something unique and special to Vincent, and those things shaped the town and school forever.

“If there is one thing that this class has taught me is that we are all unique, and to be unique is to be different, and to be different is to stand out, and to stand out means you are recognized by others, and when you are recognized by others, you can leave an impact, and that impact is your legacy,” Davis said.

Davis believes that this class has helped change the way people think about Vincent. After thanking them for the impact they left on him, he challenged them to continue to grow and be themselves so more people can be impacted in a similar way.

“Continue to grow, continue to be unique, and while this chapter of our lives is closing, another is opening,” Davis said. “Our legacy does not end here. Continue to make a difference. Continue to touch other people’s lives the way that you have touched mine.”

That future was addressed by valedictorian Chloe Abrams in her address to her classmates. While she celebrated what the Class of 2024 has done so far, she said that their accomplishments are just one part of the journey that’s to come.

“We will leave Vincent Middle High School with some of the best and worst memories of our lives, but this is just the next step for us,” Abrams said. “It’s time to move on and take a leap of faith into our next journey of who we are destined to be.”

That next step is one that Abrams told her classmates only they could take. She said they could use this moment to decide just who they would be.

“We have nothing left holding us back but ourselves,” Abrams said. “We have the power to control our future and reach our dreams. Who are we destined to be? What are we meant to do and where will we go from this moment?”

While that may seem intimidating, Abrams reassured her classmates that everything will work out exactly how it was supposed to be no matter where the journey takes them.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of the journey we are about to take with hope and perseverance,” Abrams said. “We will all end up where we were meant to be.”

Abrams said that even with the uncertainty to come that this is just the start of all the growth to come from college, work and whatever else is to come.

“Nobody knows where we will be, but one thing is certain for all of us: we can only continue to grow and learn from this moment,” Abrams said.

It didn’t take long for that learning to start thanks to history teacher and coach Ernie Atkins’ wise words he imparted during his speech.

Affectionately known as “Coach A” by his students, he left the Class of 2024 with three proverbs: minimize money because there’s more to life than it, pursue your passion because it will lead to a live of adventure and fulfillment and factor in forever because, in the words of Maximus from the movie Gladiator, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

For himself and his fellow teachers, Atkins said that the way they have followed those maxims is by making a difference in people like the seniors through teaching and the connections made through it. He challenged them to find their own way to leave a positive impact on the world.

“Class of 2024, this world will be different because you’re in it. Make it a better world,” Atkins said. “Live a life that matters. Be a world changer wherever you are. And I’m confident of this very thing: that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

As P.E. teacher Stephanie Ledlow presented the class and the seniors joined together to sing the alma mater led by Carson Isbell and Rebekah Smith, the impact of the class came even more into focus as their connections with each other and every member of the audience were on display.

With many voices in the audience singing along to the alma mater and cheering as the seniors tossed their caps, it showed the strongest bond of all: the one between Vincent the town and Vincent Middle High School.

It was one that Yancey touched on at the beginning of the ceremony during her words to the seniors.

“I just want to remind you that no matter where you go, no matter what you do, your time spent here these last few years, whether you loved it or hated it, means that this is your home, and you can always come home,” Yancey said.