John Essex High School saves the best for lastBy Justin Averette Published 9:07pm Friday, May 16, 2014
Friday’s graduation at John Essex High felt more like a big family reunion than what the occasion was billed as — the school’s last commencement.
Family and friends packed the school’s gym, filling it with flowers, big balloons and constant camera flashes.
If the mood was supposed to be somber, somebody forgot to tell the crowd.
Former principals were brought back, introduced and each received a warm applause. Tiffany Davis, who was principal from 2011-2013, came back to speak to the students she had as sophomores and juniors.
“You are the last class of John Essex High School, and it’s up to you to prove you are special,” Davis told the 12 graduating seniors. “We saved the best for last. You are indeed destined to do great things.”
The Marengo County Board of Education voted earlier this year to close John Essex due to dwindling enrollment. More students will graduate next Friday at Demopolis High than John Essex had in kindergarten through 12th grade.
During her remarks, Davis said she always felt the 2014 class was unique.
“I always knew there was something special about this class. They always stood together,” she said. “They were so mature. They always had each other’s backs.”
She implored her former students to make the most of their education.
“You must do something with the knowledge you have learned. You must do something with the skills you have acquired. You cannot let what you have learned go to waste,” Davis said.
Valedictorian Meghan Wright had a similar theme in her remarks.
“Leave an impact on the world, and don’t you ever, ever give up on your dreams,” said Wright, who is bound for the University of Alabama this fall. “We are unique, amazing, capable individuals ready to take on the world.”
Jarvis Edwards and Lashawn Collier presented the class gift, blue and yellow ribbons that were handed out to people in the audience.
The young men asked people to wear the ribbons to cherish “the legacy that will live on.”
Salutatorian Savannah Williams welcomed everyone to graduation for “the class that will go down in history.”
“This is not an ordinary class, but a class like no other. I am certain we are all capable of something extraordinary,” Williams said.
Wright, Jasmin Taylor-Merriweather and Ashley Spencer all received scholarships through the Alabama GI Bill.
Williams, Markeise Tucker and Demarcus Bennett earned Theo Ratliff scholarships for $1,000, while Lushawn Collier received a scholarship in honor of the late Dr. Christopher Scott, a John Essex alum.
Graduating seniors were Meghan Wright, Savannah Williams, Demarcus Bennett, Jasmine Taylor-Merriweather, Lushawn Collier, Michael Moore, Jarvis Edwards, Ashley Spencer, Porcha Hill, Markeise Tucker, D’Andre Jones and Jaylon Worthy.