By Crystal Burns
A small but accomplished Bradford High School graduating class racked up $1.9M in scholarship offers.
Sunday afternoon, 30 graduates received their diplomas in a ceremony that kept seniors spaced six feet apart at all times and encouraged guests to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing. When the ceremony ended, the newly-minted graduates didn’t get to load a charter bus for the traditional senior educational trip, but school officials hope the grads will be able to embark on a modified journey in July.
The potential loss of the trip, which usually includes stops in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Niagara Falls, paled in comparison to another loss that hung heavy in the air.
Seniors remembered the late Alyssa Anguiano, who was killed in a car accident in June 2018, by draping an empty seat with a white cap and gown. Class President and Salutatorian Hannah Avery memorialized her best friend since third grade in her Salutatory Address, calling Anguiano a “special angel that watches over us every day.”
Avery said with the help of supportive faculty and staff at Bradford, she and her classmates learned that while Anguiano is no longer with them physically, she lives on inside each of them.
Valedictorian Lexie Knott also spoke of loss in her Valedictory Address but encouraged her classmates with four tips for facing uncertainty: keep going, forgive, love people, and trust God’s plan.
“Stepping into the unknown is intimidating,” Knott said. “We often convince ourselves that we’ll fail before we even try.”
While the future is unknown, Knott said graduates can take comfort in knowing who holds the future.
The class received numerous accolades, including scholarship offers from various colleges, universities, and technical schools. Director of Schools Dan Black commended the students for their academic achievements, including an average ACT composite score of almost 22, which ranked Bradford the second highest in West Tennessee, and shows a marked improvement from the 16 to 17 average in 2007 when the graduates entered kindergarten.
Black also praised the seniors for how they handled the loss of so many “lasts” as schools were shut down March 16 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. He said the time serves as a tough life lesson for the class – that life is not always fair.
“Your success many times is going to be determined by how you react to these situations,” he said. “Your community and your school are very proud of how you handled this situation.”