GRAFTON—What began as an idea to honor the dedication to learning that the bright minds at Grafton High School (GHS) possess, the Rotary Club of Grafton’s Honor Graduates Celebration has grown into an annual gathering highlighting the academic success of school’s top students.
The ceremony began in 1984 as a banquet, and after being held in that fashion for more than 35 years, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Rotarians to come up with a workaround after large gatherings were put on hold.
With a new idea in mind, the first-ever Honor Graduate Celebration was held outdoors at GHS in 2020. A special banner, used as a backdrop for pictures, was created and then donated to the Class of 2020 for use at future reunions.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, 2021’s recognition was held in the same manner, but this year, groups were permitted to gather once more. And while the Rotarians hoped to shift back to their classic banquet, another issue arose that forced yet another alteration.
“In 2022, we are pleased to be able to return to a celebration where all Honor Graduates can be recognized with their peers in a single setting,” said Greg Cartwright, President of the Education Endowment of the Rotary Club of Grafton. “With a record 68 Honor Graduates, we have altered our event once more.”
This year’s recognition changed from a banquet to a celebration with hors d’oeuvres, accompanied by the GHS Jazz Band in the commons area, followed by a more formal awards ceremony inside the school’s gym.
The 39th Annual Grafton Rotary Club Honor Graduates Celebration was dedicated to one of the event’s founders, Rotarian David Rogers.
“Tonight, we are honored to dedicate the 2022 Honor Celebration to one of our most dedicated Rotarians, Mr. Dave Rogers,” emcee Mark Zeck announced, recognizing the influence that Rogers had on the event, the Rotary Club and the community.
Zeck kept things moving, as he welcomed guests to the event and introduced the celebration’s guest speaker, who reminded the honor grads to never underestimate their potential and to follow their dreams.
During a heartwarming speech, Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Shawn D. Nines, who was a proud Honor Graduate with the Class of 1993, spoke to the students about his path in law, as well as the people he had guiding and mentoring him along the way.
“In your future you will have a myriad of people who will be working to support you and mentor you, consider their advice and be thankful for their help,” Nines expressed. “And maybe one day, you can be that mentor for someone else. I congratulate all of you and look forward to successes that each and every one of you will have.”
During the evening, this year’s student guest speaker was called to the stage to address his fellow classmates.
Throughout his tenure at GHS, Braydon McCullough has been active in various student organizations including the Youth Leadership Association, Future Business Leaders of America, Student Council, the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society, as well as being a member of the track team.
And with a busy schedule, he says that his four years at GHS flew by quickly.
“Over these past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to reflect over the past four years of my life,” he addressed the honor grads. “When I started to think about freshman year, I began to realize how fast time has soared by and that freshman year was not all that long ago.”
In his recollection of his time at GHS, he noted that his class was not able to experience many of the traditional occurrences due to COVID-19.
“Sophomore and junior year were ripped from the palm of our hands, and there was nothing we do about it. For two years, we had to walk around in fear of a new disease that had the potential to take our family and friends away from us,” McCullough voiced.
“Now, we sit here as honor graduates, the most this school has ever seen,” he added. “Let me say, this is an accomplishment that all of us should be proud of…Congratulations Class of 2022 honor graduates. I am beyond ecstatic to see where all of your paths take you!”
Each of the 68 students and their honor guests, comprised of teachers, coaches, preachers, family members and friends, were called to the stage one by one to receive certificates and medallions.
The 2022 GHS Honor Graduates include: Cody James Abraham, Cerinity Dawn Beverly, Olivia Grace Bolliger, Benjamin Lee Bord, Daniel Lee Bord, Cayden Scott Boylen, Parker Ray Calvert, Aden Michael Carroll, Emily Jayne Cather, Torrie Lauren Cayton, Blake E. Copeland, Beau M. Dakon, Kaden Walker Delaney, Alynna Vivianne DeNike, Katelyn Rose Detamore, Aiden James Fancher, Mattie Ashlyn Flohr, Mckenzie Wanda Dae Flohr, Emma Rose Fridley, Sydney Rachelle Friend, Emily Jolene Gibson, Kelly Jo Grass, Mara LouAnn Griffith, Ashley Elizabeth Harrison, James Luther Helmondollar, Matthew Ray Helmondollar, Matthew Ryan Henline, Alyson Presley Hill, Sydney Brook Hodges, Karee Nichole Hutson, Gabriella Linn Kelly, Chase Allen Klepfel, Madeline Denise Lipscomb and Ryan David Maier.
In addition, Colton Aaron Majercin, Frederique Shafica Maloley, Madison Joelle Mayle, Makenna Nicole Mayle, Ansley Kaylin McCartney, Braydon Allen McCullough, MacKenzie Jade Middleton, Brianna Aretta Miller, Caleb Matthew Minear, Tanner Riley Moats, Blayde Alexander Pinnell, Makenna Leigh Poling, Jaylen Arman Poole, Gracen Lauren Purkey, Elias Arthur Rubenstein, Alyssa Mackenzie Satterfield, Emily Jane Setler, Payton Summer Shreve, Eli Michael Shumaker, Madison Nicole Simmons, Amber Nichole Smith, Justin William Spiker, Gabriel Anthony Spino, Clayton Hunter Stanley, Mason Blake Stevens, Anna Marie Stottlemyer, Isabella Faith Swiger, Aniesa P. Taylor, Kathlynn Erica Thompson, Thaddeus Whitescarver, Cameron Dale Wiles, Brenna Marie Wilson, Ryan James Wolfe and Gavin Cole Wolverton were also recognized as honor graduates.
The staff of the Mountain Statesman would like to congratulate all of this year’s honor grads and wish you much success for the future!