Despite the unorthodox way their high school careers ended, repeated sentiments during the graduation ceremony of the Rockmart High School class of 2020 were thankfulness and the opinion they had been the school’s most celebrated senior class.
With almost all 222 graduates attending the delayed commencement ceremony Friday, June 26, there were still moments to cherish and worth celebrating for those who came. Social distancing and health precautions because of the COVID-19 pandemic limited each graduate to four family members each.
“I’m sure many of you wondered if this day was ever going to come,” Principal Robyn Teems said during her message to the audience. “We’re only 36 days late.”
March 12 marked the final day of classes for Polk School District students as instruction and assignments transitioned online for the remainder of the school year. Normal events that signal the end of school for seniors were canceled, however some were created to recognize their accomplishments.
Rockmart’s graduating class includes 87 honor graduates and 11 who graduate with an associate degree. Teems said the class’s achievements in the classroom and on the athletic field prove their diligence and desire to keep working.
“This class is strong. Most were born in the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11,” Teems said. “Now this group of great people is becoming adults and getting ready to leave home and be independent during COVID-19. These guys are our hope. They are our future and they really prove that apparently nothing is capable of stopping the class of 2020.”
Valedictorian Malorie Bradfield in her address noted all of the changes that have happened during the lives of her and her fellow classmates, from living in a post-9/11 world to seeing school nutrition change to mourning the losses of teachers.
“We never got to celebrate with a trip to Six Flags, or go to the elementary schools to show the future classes of RHS how hard work and perseverance turns into a cap and a gown,” Bradfield said. “To this day, prom dresses still have tags on them, and here we are, graduating a month and four days after the 2019-2020 school calendar had promised.”
Salutatorian Sarah Adair spoke about all of the things the class had seen Rockmart High School accomplish and recognized how loved ones and teachers helped them get to this point.
“All of us have grown into our own and developed into the adults you see before you. But without the support of everyone here and those of you at home watching, we would not be here,” Adair said.
The ceremony was live streamed on the Polk School District’s Facebook page for anyone who was not able to attend, and a handful of people stood outside the fence along the north end zone of the stadium.