RHS Graduation 2017

Students from Rockmart High School sing their Alma Mater together one last time as a class as graduation wrapped up on Friday.

Kevin Myrick

As the school year came to a close and a new group of graduates received their diplomas, outgoing principal Wesley Cupp said the Class of 2017 has left a big mark.

The class started off the year searching for a way to make their impact on the school and had a senior prank in mind to be remembered by in hopes of becoming legends.

When that didn’t work out, Cupp said during his speech to graduates that they found a different way to make their mark: through accomplishments in academics and athletics.

“Something so special and obvious that I had to address and acknowledge it: you did it,” he said. “You did what no one else expected you to do, you made it.”

Cupp pointed to team and individual accomplishments during Rockmart’s May 26 graduation ceremony that all of Rockmart can celebrate. Playoff appearances throughout the year in football, softball, volleyball, boys basketball, tennis and baseball were among the achievements he praises, along with individual efforts of cross country runners, wrestlers and track athletes in competition during 2016-17.

“Someone can’t leave a mark if they do the same thing everyone else does,” Cupp said. “The only way to leave a mark is to do something that all classes would want to live up to and surpass. Class of 2017, you have certainly made your mark. You did it.”

He also had high praise for the FBLA and other student organizations on campus for participation in community projects, and for students in general for positive end of course and AP test scores.

Cupp added that he saw something this year in this class that has been lacking, a desire to do better this year than any class in the past.

He wasn’t the only one who had something to say to the seniors during their final moments at Rockmart High School. Senior salutatorian Maci Campbell, one of four students who also earned an Associate’s degree while at Rockmart High, told her fellow classmates that even though their journey at Rockmart High was over, it was just the first steps on the road to the rest of their lives.

“I think the hardest part of today is leaving some of our closest friends behind,” Campbell said.

Valedictorian Janae Crawford used her speech to remind her classmates that many leaders in the past and present have come from small towns, from Oprah Winfrey to Norman Borlag.

“The world wouldn’t be what it is today without these people,” she said. “And some of them come from smaller towns than Rockmart.”

She encouraged her fellow classmates to use their experiences to shape their future, and remember not to let their background limit what they want to do with their lives.

Along with graduation on Friday, Rockmart students finished up school for the year from the elementary level on up. School will start back in August for students heading back to class for the 2017-18 year.

During ceremonies Friday, the school also took time out to have a moment of silence for Corey Godfrey, coach and vice principal at Rockmart High School who died during the school year.

Find more photos in this week's edition of the Standard Journal, on newsstands starting Tuesday morning.