Class of 2018 leaves Cougar Den

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By Rebecca Morris

Accompanied by cheers, whistles and a few air horn blasts, Grayson County High School’s Class of 2018 started the next chapters of their lives Saturday, May 26.
A gym packed to the rafters with family and friends greeted the 291 students clad in blue gowns and orange stoles. Another 34 students had received their diplomas early, making this one of GCHS’s largest classes in recent memory. With so many relatives and friends anticipated, the school set up a display screen in the cafeteria and used a live video feed to turn it into a seating area. They also attempted to live stream the ceremony on the web, but had a system malfunction after a few minutes.
GCHS Principal Todd Johnston urged the new alumni to “regardless of the path you choose in life, be the good.”
Class president Mc­Kenzie Snyder said in preparing her speech she began thinking about all the changes she and her classmates had been through in the past four years.
Many have their lives all planned out, she said, but circumstances can and will change those plans through the years. The key to success and joy in life, she said, comes from learning to roll with those changes.
“Laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and remind yourself that everything happens for a reason,” Snyder told her classmates.
Salutatorian Ashton McConigal noted the class was celebrating reaching a significant milestone in life, but that others await as they begin their journeys as adults.
“Always stay positive, and always stay true to yourself,” she said.
Valedictorian Sydney Rogers urged the graduates to look at the ceremonies not as an end, but as a beginning. She noted that as a group, the Class of 2018 will do great things in their lives.
“Don’t let high school become the pinnacle of your happiness,” she said. “Try to make each year better than the last. ... You have a lot of time to find the best years of your life. Make those years count.”
Valedictorian Chloe Lindsey spent the last two years away from her classmates, attending The Gatton Academy for Mathematics and Science in Kentucky on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
She said she often was asked to describe Grayson County, and found herself talking of how people here act, the kindness and friendliness they exhibit.
What we do defines us in life, Lindsey said – and that “doing” includes how we relate to others.
“Everything we do makes an impact,” she said. “Make sure it’s a positive one.”
GCHS graduates have a longstanding prank of slipping items to principal Todd Johnston as they make their way along a receiving line that includes him, Grayson County Schools superintendent Doug Robinson and school board members before getting their diplomas.
This was the last year for that prank, though, since Johnston has been promoted to director of district-wide programs starting in the 2018-19 school year.
This time students slipped Johnston folded-up “unexcused absences,” or tardy, slips -- a reminder, he said after the ceremonies, of their difficulties with time management in their first months of high school.