BUCKHANNON – Parents and relatives, school administrators and staff gathered Friday evening to celebrate the 133rd annual commencement exercises for the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Class of 2020 at the Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium.
Of the approximately 265 graduates, about 135 participated in Friday’s ceremony.
Brent Kimble, Faculty Senate Chairperson for B-UHS, gave graduating seniors some advice.
“The high school administration has pegged this class as ‘the class with vision,’” Kimble said. “While this title is fitting, I see this class as one that has encountered adversity all along the way and somehow comes out of it better than before.”
Kimble said the Class of 2020 is one of the first classes born in the post-9/11 world, adding they have seen economic downturns, upturns and downturns again.
“They watched and grew as the events at Sago unfolded. They have witnessed social movements, racial tensions and the technology age come to pass. Heck, you were all born with iPhones in your hands – except in Mr. Reger’s class,” he said. “In high school, they witnessed periods of two educational work stoppages, and oh yeah, a global pandemic.”
Kimble said he listed these things out because he wanted to remind everyone of how much they have already endured.
“Life is difficult and in some times, we need to remember the past in order to brighten the future,” he said, challenging graduates to reflect on their accomplishments and embrace the present moment and future moments.
Kimble encouraged the graduates to take the time to thank those who have impacted their lives so far.
“This stadium is filled with people who love and support you,” he said. “Trust me, the next stages of your lives will be filled with celebrations and tribulations – it is the people in this stadium celebrating all you have accomplished so far who will be there to pick you up when life turns you upside down.”
Members of the Class of 2020 selected two students to make addresses during Friday’s ceremony – Jared Propst and Samuel Walker.
Jared reminded his fellow classmates what a crazy year their senior year has been and said he thinks it will be something for the history books.
“Just imagine the stories we will get to tell in the future,” Jared said. “In the midst of this craziness, I want to thank all my friends, classmates and teachers. Everyone I have encountered has made my time here so memorable, and I cannot thank them enough.”
Next, Jared offered thanks to his mother, dad, sisters and his grandmas.
“Lastly, I want to give thanks to God for everything he has done in my life,” he said.
In the second student address, Samuel looked over those gathered for the evening and noted ‘it has been a long time since I have seen this may people.’
“The teachers have done an outstanding job supporting us during this time of crisis, such as providing food for those in need, providing Wi-Fi in the school parking lots and finding countless ways to celebrate our senior year,” Samuel said.
He said he feels classmates have the right to feel they have been ‘shorted out.’
“We lost our senior prom, senior spirit week and spring sports seasons,” Samuel said. “Our band will never get their last marching season at the Strawberry Festival and our choir will not have its spring concert. These things hold a special part in everyone’s heart and will be missed. But, no matter how you feel about school ending so abruptly, we are living through history in the making – someday, our kids and grandkids will be reading about what is happening present day in their history classes.”
Samuel said he will miss cross-county and his coaches and teammates.
“Over the past four years, B-UHS and the community have given me so much to be proud of and thankful for, and I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything,” he said. “Our community has always made me feel at home and encouraged me to be the best version of myself.”
Upshur County Schools staff and administration had originally asked seniors to select how they wanted to receive their diplomas, but that plan was rejected by the state as ‘social distancing measures’ could not be achieved. Graduates could pick up their diplomas on May 22 at the school, participate in the ceremony held Friday or both.