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GCHS awards diplomas to 108 graduates

PIONEER SCHOLARS – The Pioneer Scholar is the highest award presented at Gibson County High School graduation. Students receiving the honor have exceptional ACT scores in combination with high grade point averages. They represent the students with the highest overall achievement. This year’s Pioneer Scholars are (front row, from left) Alexandria Miller, Julianna Turner, Hannah Ball, Jessica Tanner, Alaina Eddlemon, Kaitlyn Zarecor, Lydia Todd, (back row) Alex Jones, Kendra Jo White, McKinley Burkett, Savanna Ramsey, Thomas Lawrence and Ethen Carrell.

By Crystal Burns

Gibson County High School principal Jim Hughes awarded diplomas to 108 graduates Friday evening.

The Class of 2019 was lauded for its myriad of individual and group accomplishments, with Hughes telling the graduates that successes, failures and hard work don’t end with their most recent achievement.

“Your have started the race,” he said. It is a long race. You have just started.”

Hughes said the students’ opportunities are endless and encouraged them to embrace those opportunities that continue them on the path of success.

“Don’t worry about failures,” he also said. “Use them as stepping stones.”

Julianna Turner, class secretary, gave the welcome address.

“We finally made it,” she said. “We have grown tremendously in what feels like a small space of forever.”

Turner had two ideas for her classmates: to never forget where they come from and to return the favor.

“We are definitely blessed to have grown up in this community,” she said. “I will forever hold life in a small town like Dyer in my heart.”

Salutatorian Lydia Todd also addressed her classmates, choosing time as her topic.

“Imagine the kind of change we can bring with the time we have left,” she said. “We are prepared to change the future.”

Todd’s goal is to spread joy, she said.

“We will all have chances to lighten someone’s day,” Todd said. “To every question, choose kindness.”

Valedictorian Kaitlyn Zarecor noted the many accomplishments of her class, crediting their persistence, dedication and hours of hard work. She encouraged her fellow graduates to step out into an uncertain world and find the world of opportunities that await.

Several graduates were recognized, including those who earned the Work Ethic Certificate, Tennessee Scholars, Tri-Star Scholars, State Honors, State Distinction and Pioneer Scholars. Tennessee Scholars must complete at least 80 hours of community service while maintaining a high grade point average (GPA) and high attendance rate. Tri-Star Scholars must score at least a 19 on the ACT composite and complete a Capstone Industry Certification. Students who meet all four ACT benchmarks receive State Honors, and students who graduate with at least a B average and complete one of eight criterion from the Tennessee Diploma Project receive State Distinction.

GCHS combines students’ GPA and ACT score on a point system to determine Pioneer Scholars.

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