After nearly three months and four postponements, the Jefferson City High School graduates finally got to walk the stage.
The ceremony was postponed three times due to COVID-19 and once due to inclement weather. But the Class of 2020 was finally honored Saturday at Adkins Stadium with some slight changes, including no handshakes and no presentation of diplomas.
The Class of 2020 includes 543 graduates, 19 salutatorians and one valedictorian. The salutatorians and valedictorian completed a combined total of 400 college credit hours, according to Principal Bob James. Eight students were honored with awards, 12 students were recognized for having a GPA of 3.95 or above, and 12 students were recognized for joining the military.
Superintendent Larry Linthacum said the theme for the Class of 2020 was overcoming adversity, and that if they could overcome schedule changes, start time changes, construction, a tornado and a pandemic, they can overcome anything.
"Your resiliency has been observed, and your resiliency has laid a tremendous foundation for you in your life as you move on to the next chapter," Linthacum said.
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James said he spent months trying to find the right words to say in his speech, so he decided to just speak from the heart.
"I really love you guys," James said. "I love resilient people — people that acknowledge the challenges that we're facing every day but keep moving forward. And I became a fan of this class very quickly. I am a loyal fan, and I will forever be a fan of the Class of 2020."
James said he loves that the Class of 2020 was optimistic and made the best of things.
"Not only did you make the best of what we've faced, but you've made them better," he said. "Not very many people can do that. You actually did walk uphill both ways to classes — that is a true statement — but you did so hoping and being optimistic that the path would flatten for you the next day."
Class President Blake Conrad said overcoming these adversities has made the Class of 2020 stronger.
"Our time at JCHS has taught us to handle life's curveballs while becoming hardworking, vigilant, knowledgeable, competent, dependable and tenacious young adults," he said. "Yes, we learned a lot from tests, homework and class, but we learned more from developing a community that shared experiences and accepted every person."
Valedictorian William Roehl said he learned to appreciate the meaning of the phrase "stronger together" during his senior year when the summer began with a tornado and the school year ended with a pandemic, yet the community persevered.
"We found another common goal to unite all of us," he said. "With each of us doing their part, people were able to regain some normalcy in their lives — stronger together."