The Class of 2019 will be one that remains a topic of discussion in Polk County for years to come. This group of seniors from both Cedartown and Rockmart include academic over-achievers worthy of celebration, state title seekers and winners, and teens who are ready to tackle whatever challenges are ahead of them in a ever-changing world.
On Friday night and Saturday morning this past weekend, Rockmart and Cedartown High School gathered in their football stadium despite the heat to hand out diplomas to well over 400 students between both schools combined.
Rockmart High Salutatorian Jackson Norris and Valedictorian Montana Barber delivered their thanks and at least in Norris’ case some intentionally bad jokes to family, friends, educators and fellow students for their efforts to help them achieve a great end to their education in Polk County on Friday night.
Norris specifically pointed toward the above average experience of Rockmart’s Class of 2019 — region titles and state championship runs included as well as a mention of their win over Cedartown in football last August — but most importantly he used his time to thank one person in particular. He dedicated his speech to former RHS Band Director David Snipes, who died suddenly at the close of the 2018 school year.
“I miss him with every fiber of my being,” Norris said. “We all do.”
Over in Cedartown, it fell to Valedictorian Gabe Foster and Salutatorian Ebrahem Abdul-Rahman to provide the same thanks to the hundreds on hand Saturday morning in the same vein.
Foster told the Class of 2019 during his address that their focus should be on how they can make an impact through positive action, and that when he sees them in the future at their 10, 20 and 30th reunions as a class he hopes to find them all happy and making a difference.
“There are always ups and downs and many of us have learned that in high school,” Foster said. “Remember that your life is yours to live, don’t live it for anyone else. Dream big and take risks. Buy a boat, travel the world, start your own business. Do what you want to do and what makes you happy.”
Both schools can combined provide a positive tally on the year of students who excelled. Among those are six college grads among the class of 2019, which includes Holly Decker, Rose Meus, Ebrahem Abdul-Rahman, Ellye Puckett, Cam Lorys, and Grace Prince.
The Class of 2019 can also applaud thousands of college credit hours earned by dozens of students on both sides of the county as they head off to the next level of their education. Dozens of technical career certificates were earned before seniors graduated, and millions have been given to students in scholarships for their coming four years of college.
Rockmart High principal Robyn Teems particularly noted that the class is sending 17 athletes on to play at the collegiate level and more are likely to sign in the days to come. Cedartown have so far this year celebrated 7 of their own heading off to college for the year.