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Students take final walk as Pioneers, Trailblazers

Staff Writer
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Area seniors walked across the stage and into a new adventure on Saturday as students from Daniel
Boone and David Crockett High Schools graduated in the East Tennessee State University minidome.

“Thank you to the school board and Mr. Boyd, thank you to Daniel Boone’s faculty and staff. To our teachers, our principals, our guidance counselors and our maintenance staff. And thank you above all else to our parents and to our families, to those of you who are pushing us to become the men and women that we are today. We thank you,” Boone Valedictorian Jacob Ogan said. “It is a great honor for us to be able to stand here today and call ourselves high school graduates.”

Ogan’s classmates sat in their respective alphabetical rows, listening to his message of encouragement, awaiting their turn to receive the long-awaited degree.

“Jacob had a GPA of 4.36 and an ACT score of 35. He received his Eagle Scout rank a couple of months ago,” his mother Melony Kiser-Ogan said. “He leads Bible study group on Wednesday mornings at Boone and works at Pals for his dad in the family business. He will be attending Boyce College at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I am so thankful God chose me to be his mom.”

Crockett Valedictorian Brooke Dennis said that graduation is a time when everyone comes together to celebrate all of the successes, victories and trials.

“Graduation is a great accomplishment and something each one of us should take great pride in,” she said to her peers on Saturday. “All of us should show gratitude to all those who gave us this opportunity. I would like to thank all the parents and guardians that are present here this morning, supporting their
seniors for completing a huge milestone. “Whatever you choose for your career path, remember, the
struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. Don’t be afraid, be focused, and be determined, hopeful and empowered. There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Christy Kyker’s son, Isaiah, graduated from Crockett and says he is super excited to begin this next chapter of his life.

“He has some fond memories from high school. His fondest memories are auto mechanics with Mr. Liken, wrestling and hanging out with his friends.,” she said.

Isaiah sends a message to the incoming freshman class to “have fun and work hard, because it goes by fast.”

“A special thank you to Coach Green, Ms. Elliott and Ms. Price for all they did to ensure I graduated on time,” he added.

Students had mixed emotions during the ceremony — some very nervous, but others seeking peace in the transition.

“Being able to process everything is very strange and difficult,” said Crockett grad Kaya Breeann Willis. “However, I know that my future is in God’s hands and He will provide for me and
show me where to go.

“I am going to ETSU this fall and I plan to be an Occupational Therapist. There are many things I wish I could go back and tell my freshman self. One major thing would be to take in every single second. That is the most cliché thing ever, but it has so much truth in it. Four years go by in a blink.”

To some seniors, graduation day seemed just like a Saturday, with a little more urgency and importance tacked on.

“It feels like another day honestly, transferring freshman year, and COVID sophomore year and junior year and taking all classes on campus at ETSU senior year, it just feels like I skipped right through high school,” Crockett Salutatorian Kennedy Broyles said. “I don’t have many high school memories, but
the last day of school, when we thought we were just getting an extended spring break, but didn’t go back the rest of the school year is a big memory.

“Another would be my junior year, when I played softball, and we defeated Boone at their place in nine innings. Going 12-0 in conference that year was a big memory too.”

Broyles said that, despite the unconventional high school career her and her classmates shared, she is excited for the future and what’s next. After all, their four years were all unknown.

“I look forward to getting my education and playing softball at Spartanburg Methodist College,” she said. “I plan to get my degree in accounting and earn my CPA. I also plan to double minor in interior design and sports management. I also plan to get my real estate license during the summer.

“There were so many different people that impacted my life through high school, softball and my life. My high school experience has been different than most, but I would tell freshman to make new friends and stay out of unnecessary drama! Also, I recommend Dual Enrollment over AP classes.”