The Benjamin Logan High School Class of 2021 has an attitude of perseverance and stepping up to the plate that will serve them well as they move into their next phases of life, valedictorian Jacob McKenrick told his classmates during his speech Friday evening at the commencement service.
He detailed the many challenges that the class has overcome in the last year, starting with remote learning from home in the spring of 2020, to beginning the new school year as seniors and having to wear masks, have assigned seating at lunchtime and sporting events without fans.
But he said they also had a lot to be thankful for — they had many chances to make many memories together during their senior year.
“I honestly wasn’t too sure this moment would happen a year ago. I figured if I had to give a speech it would be from my living room over a Zoom call with someone’s dog barking in the background.
“We had Friday night football games, we danced at prom, we walked for Relay, we put on a musical. We fought through quarantines, Zoom classes, awful smelling hand sanitizer, and days of forgetting a mask at home to have a senior year that if nothing else, was memorable.”
Concluding his speech, Jacob encouraged his classmates with the words of Babe Ruth,
“Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” and noted that he’s taken those words to heart during high school.
“He may have been talking about baseball, but I believe he was talking about life. You can’t let being afraid of what might happen keep you from doing what you want to do.
“As a middle schooler, I was so worried about what people might think if I didn’t do what was considered popular, but I’m proud to say I have no regrets from the choices I made in high school. I played the sports, joined the clubs, and took the classes I wanted to and didn’t let the judgement of others keep me from doing it. There’s nothing wrong with playing baseball and doing Quiz Bowl too..
“Go for that job, ask that girl out, see the world, write that song. Don’t spend so much time worrying about life that you don’t get out and live it.”
Salutatorian Benjamin Coffield also told his classmates that through their many shared experiences, he considers them his family.
“Today has finally arrived. We have been waiting for this day for thirteen years. For many of us, we have spent those years together. We have laughed together, cried together. We have shared victory and defeat, good times and bad. But it has all led up to this.
“Today we are Raiders. Tomorrow, we will be many things: workers, soldiers, and students studying all over the country. But we will always share this school and the times that we have spent with one another.”
Board of Education President Deb Johnson congratulated the graduates, and the retired Benjamin Logan Middle School principal related that the last time she gave each of them a “high-five” was on her last day as their principal.
“Now seven years later, I’m here on behalf of the Board of Education to ‘high-five’ you.”
The graduates also honored a moment of silence in memory of their classmate, Robert Michael Smith, who passed away as a result of an automobile accident in November 2019.
BLHS Principal Dr. Brian Powderly recognized the pupils and had them stand based on their selection of their “E” following graduation — whether enrolling in college, employed or enlisting in the armed forces.
Audience members offered a standing ovation to those graduates enlisting in the military, and they include: Dawson Ervin, Garrett Henry, Trevor Penwell, Chad Porter Jr., Blake Rose and Nicholas Rose.