MAYODAN — McMichael High School’s Class of 2019 earned $9.7 million in scholarships, a figure that marks a $6 million increase in awards money over last year’s graduates, the school's principal announced before awarding diplomas on Saturday.
The 292 members of this year’s graduating class turned their tassels during the school’s morning commencement exercises held in the high school’s packed auditorium.
Principal Jonathan Williams began the ceremony by offering a bouquet of white roses to the parents of the late Brady Webster Mitchell, a popular member of the senior class who died of cancer on Christmas Eve at 17.
The gym fell silent to honor the fallen classmate whose battle with cancer galvanized the student body and the community in year-round efforts to fund-raise in Mitchell’s name.
Williams went on to congratulate seniors, 152 of whom plan on attending a four-year college in the fall. Another 43 percent of the young adults say they will enter a two-year college or training school, while roughly 4% of the class plans to enter the military, Williams told the crowd of families, friends and administrators.
Of the group, 47 students earned top honors.
Cum laude grads with grade point averages between 3.8 and 3.99 were: Karina Samila Alamiri, Alexander James Belcher, Kennedy Renee Brandel, Macy Caroline Cardwell, Mackenzie Shane Cook, Ciana Rayne Davis, Arelice Carolina Flores-Gonzalez, Cole Michael Hopkins, Nathanial Lee Joyce, Havanna Adell Land, Jarrett Scott Spaugh, Alyssa Grace Smith, and Thomas James Tosh.
Magna cum laude members of the class achieved a GPA between 4.0 and 4.199 and included: Amelia Claire Bullins, Madelyn Grayce Hilton, Grace Emily Hodges, Evan Boone Kallam, Jackson Robert Miller, Joshua Blake Newell, Khondaker Samin Tashid, Taylor Elizabeth Smith, Taksumi Suzuki, Annie Michele Tredway, and Austin Tyler Tucker.
Those earning the highest honors with GPAs of 4.2 or higher received summa cum laude status and included: Elizabeth Anne Carbone, Jessica Tuyet Chu, Ty Ellis Clark, Merritt Dana Connor, Brandon Charles Cool, Rachel Mackenzie Dalton, Nathan Case Isley, Noah Colin Joyce, Casey Nicole Kellogg, Zachary Andrew Knight, Etienne Joseph Lambert, Amber Grace Long, Brayden Lucas Minichello, Justin David O’Neal, Abigail Mackenzie Poindexter, Jacob Alexander Smith, Bryce Ann Taylor, Kirsten Marissa Tucker, Jordan Bradford Tuggle, Merida Valentin-Mendez, Katherine Elizabeth Lackey Williams, Grace Elizabeth Wilson, and Reagan Elizabeth Wyatt.
Jennifer Flynt was honored with the title Teacher of the Year, and members of the high school’s vocal ensemble performed a stirring rendition of “You Raise Me Up’’ before Class of 2019’s speaker Kirsten Tucker bid her fellow graduates good luck. Her speech, “The Right Step in Our Own Directions,’’ encouraged her classmates to be bold and steadfast as they pursue their goals.
The senior class leaves a gift of a Phoenix statue for the school in tribute to the McMichael mascot.