There were 180 seniors who walked across the stage during the annual Monroe High School graduation ceremonies on Saturday.
The memories of two fallen class members were also also present during the ceremonies.
At each end of the stage at Princeton Pike Church of God, there was a memorial graduation gown hanging over a chair and a small pillar with their graduation cap, photograph and diploma cover displayed that remembered Noah Vess and Kaylie Jackson. Their classmates who walked across the stage went past both memorials.
Mitchell Foster Jr., who was in the prom night crash on April 27 that led to Jackson’s death, was recognized for having a grade point average of 3.8 or higher, and received applause as he walked across the stage. The other two students in the crash, Chynna Brandon and Tanner Allford, were members of the junior class.
Superintendent Phil Cagwin said Vess died a few months ago, while Jackson died April 30 from injuries following a car crash April 27 as she and three others were en route to the prom. He said the families both had communication with the high school administration about how the students should be remembered at the graduation ceremony.
Brett Guido, Monroe Board of Education president, said the district wanted to honor the memory of the two students as well as honor the accomplishments of the entire senior class.
During his remarks, Principal Brian Powderly asked for a moment of silence to remember Jackson and Vess.
“We have much to be proud of in Hornet Country,” he said.
As part of the class gift back to the school, Class President Colin Lawson said instead of passing along the leftover funds to the junior class, the seniors decided to donate those funds to the families of Jackson and Vess.
During the ceremony, the school choir sang, “Imagine,” and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”
Senior Martina Rogers reminded her classmates to always be thankful
“We formed our community,” she said. “… Don’t take our community for granted.”
Senior Faith Hensley spoke about the highs and lows of life and said that everything happens for a reason. She said challenges in life make successes sweeter and that friends should always be treasured.
Cagwin, said he didn’t have that “perfect inspirational quote” to pass along to the graduates, but he said that life was full of wonderful opportunities and urged them to slow down and enjoy life.
Guido and the rest of the school board awarded Cagwin a diploma designating him as a honorary graduate of Monroe High School in recognition for his service to the district and leading the district back into fiscal health and restoring its programs that were cut due to finances.
After the school board swarmed him with his diploma, Cagwin joked by asking what his GPA was.
Cagwin, who has served as superintendent for six years, retires next month.