TRINITY — As the class of 2021 bid farewell to Wheatmore High School at its graduation ceremony last week, students in attendance were reminded by those appointed to speak that their journey is only beginning.

In following with the tradition established 11 years ago at Wheatmore, a speech contest determined two student speakers at graduation. Those senior speakers this year were Lindsay Hazelwood and Logan Sink.

Greeting their classmates from the podium, both Hazelwood and Sink spoke on behalf of the student body on what it has been like to complete their diplomas in the most unorthodox of circumstances.

“I can say with 100% confidence that this year was nothing like we had ever anticipated it would be,” Hazelwood said. “We never imagined that two weeks of staying home in March 2020 would turn into a completely-altered senior year filled with cancellations, quarantines, contact tracing and a new appreciation of normalcy.

“Despite the numerous protocols and hindrances we would have endured, I’m proud to say that all 205 students who sit in front of me have completely embodied a ‘Warrior mentality’ and have shown that they have whatever it takes to face the challenges that lie ahead.”

Her classmate mirrored Hazelwood’s reflective tone, emphasizing the perseverance of students and noting the unique impact the last 15 months will have on the rest of their lives. Changed forever by the events of the summer of 2020, the class entered its senior year with a backdrop that left students reeling for answers.

In response, they sought diligently to preserve their individuality, Sink said, striving to maintain the characteristics that make each member of the graduating class equipped to face the next chapter of their lives.

“We are not the same people that we were when we stepped into Wheatmore four short years ago,” Sink said. “We have witnessed a series of social reckonings, a global pandemic and various difficulties that have developed us into who we are today.”

Hazelwood and Sink thanked staff for their efforts in leading a student body during unprecedented times. Under standard circumstances, Sink acknowledged teachers have a difficult task of preparing young people for adulthood. Hazelwood said even when youth neglect to acknowledge their attempts, they are still appreciated.

One such staff member, Bruce Hunt, construction trades teacher at Wheatmore, drew comparisons between this year’s class and his own. Reminded of taking the stage at his graduation, Hunt mentioned that seniors he taught have impacted his life in familiar ways to the indelible influence his teachers did years ago.

He left the group of students with parting words intended to evoke hope and optimism.

“I see a group of young people where the sky is the limit,” Hunt said. “You will accomplish great things, and you bring joy to my life. Be blessed, and I love you.”

Hazelwood tipped her cap to the peers with whom she’s shared the halls of Wheatmore for four years and acknowledged that graduation represents the first of its kind of uncertainty. What will define the senior class of 2021 likely lies ahead.

“Throughout the last 18 years of our lives, we have always known what our next steps would be — transitioning from elementary school to middle school and from middle school to high school,” Hazelwood said. “Today is a turning point in each of our lives.”

Wheatmore High School graduates:

Ryli Scott Adams, Isabelle Claire Albertson, Zack Van Ayers, Claire Elise Barrow, Winston Dallas Baysinger, Bailey Rae Blankenship, Psymon Lee Bowman Jr., Joseph Jaden Bowser, Geoffrey Shane Brisson Jr., Tyler Darren Brooks, Lauren Michelle Brown, Jacob Tyler Browning, Taylor Ann Bundy, Joseph Adam Burge, Hannah Michelle Carter, Karlie Rae Caudell, Westin Montgomery Childers, Glendys Betzaida Santos Chontal, Katherine Marie Chriscoe, Lonnie Slade Church, Abigail Ann Cody, Thomas Ray Cole Jr., Taylor Brooke Comer, Marissa Nicole Cox, Lauren Elizabeth Cranford, Riley Brian J Lee Creech, Isabel Morgan Cribbs, Zackery Theodore Crites, Morgan Elizabeth Cunha, Jordan Andrew Dempsey, Gavin Leo Dennis, Allison Frances Dickerson, Faith Elaine Dixon, Natalie Paige Dodd, George Marvin Douglas Jr., Andrew Tyler Earnhardt, Amber Lou Edwards, Kaylee Elizabeth Edwards, Kendal Grace Edwards, Carson Elizabeth Elliott, Zachary Paul Embler, Christy Esparza, Isaac Grant Farlow, Owen Alejandro Figueroa, Edward James Franchi, Katelyn Elizabeth Fritz, Fletcher Glenn Gallimore, Christopher Jamar Galloway, Gavin Austin Gentry, Brett Andrew Gillespie, Cody Neil Glass, Jack Wilson Goodnight, James Henry Green, Ryan Christopher Green, Ellie McCormick Greene, Ethan Lane Griffin, Jada Nicole Grossi, Caleb L Gundaker, Timothy Nathaniel Hairfield; Austin Alan Hall, Sonya McKenzie Hall, Logan Eric Hanneman, Pearce Avery Harper, Hailey Dale Hartley, Lindsay Renee Hazelwood, Sierra Elizabeth Heer, Alana Danae’ Henderson, Ana Maria Hernandez, Bryan O’Neal Hernandez, Daisy Nicole Hicks, Mallory Claire Hicks, Damien Lee Hill, Lacey Paige Hilliard, Wesley Andrew Hodgin, Coleman Raye Huggins, Charlie James Hunt, Julio Jimenez, Austin Micheal Johnson, Brayden Eugene Johnson, Jeremiah Eugene Johnson, Fredrick Swaim Jollie, Kelsey Leann Jones, Bryson Phoenix Joyce, Audrianna Lorialle Justus, Joshua Daniel Kelly, Jaxon Alexander Kimmons, Nicholas Pavel Klingensmith, Ethan Wyatt Koontz, Noah Edward Lackey, Andrew Mckinnlee Lang, Alyna Gray Leonard, Evan Sterling Linke, David Lira-Mondragon, Nicole Gail Beck Long, Waylon Dean Luckett, Abigail Lane Lynn, Anna Grace Lynn, Sydney Maya Lyons, Jared Lee Manning, Tylor Michael Massey, Lauren Julianna Matheson, Cameron Matthew McCarson, Eric Hugh McLaurin, Madelyn Nicole McQuaigue, Garrett Scott Meadows, Michael Logan Meservey, Hannah Michelle Meyer, Alyssa Elizabeth Miller, Ian James Miller, Seth Douglas Miller, Abigail Marie Moore, Kaleigh Hope Moore, Mia Kaydith Moore, Yoni Mora, Matthew Lee Morris, Patrick Quinn Murphy, Samantha Glen Murphy, Hayden Randall Craig Myers, Stephanie Michelle Myers, Joshua Aaron Neel, Bryson Michael Nicoletta, Alecksy Dominique Keosouma Nonan, Nathan Connor Osborne, Hunter Finnegan Owen, Bailey Charles Owens, Emily Alexis Pacheco, Dawson William Payne, Rachel Leigh Alexandria Payne, Broderick Scott Perry, Lucas Matthew Gabriel Phillips, Jessica Nicole Pittman, Michael Austin Poplin, Nashadnae Jania Postell, Zimri Alozna Postell, Mason Taylor Purvis, Ragan Alexandria Quate, Nolan Sebastian Ramirez, Dayton Salvador Ramos, Matthew Steven Roberson, Savannah Marie Roberts, Logan Shawn Rogers, Gloria Angel Ross-Terry, John Christian Scott, Ethan Quinn Sears, Isaiah Franklin Shelton, Kyleigh Brynn Shelton, Brady Douglas Shoe, Breanna Dawn Shooter, Isabelle Paige Simmons, Austin Garrett Sink, Logan Chase Sink, Hannah Alexus Smith, Hunter Alex Smith, Katelyn Marie Smith, Melanie Soto-Perez, Melissa Soto-Perez, Brett Austin Southern, Whalen Dale Sowers, Damion Lee Spicer, Dontae Seth Spoone, Joshua Todd Sprouse, James William Stamper, Bryson Lee Stanley, Morgan Elizabeth Starnes, Jacob Tyler Stevens, Noah Harley Swaney, Austin Kyle Thompson, Kynnedy Irelyn Thrift;

Andrew Richard Tinsley, James Richard Tinsley, Shayna Ashlyn Tobey, Blake Alan Todd, Ryan Leslie Triplett, Wesley Shelton Triplett, Makaila Nicole Tuggle, Dylan Lee Turner, Elyjah James Waldo, Callie Brooke Walker, Makenzie Lynn Walker, Hallie Grace Ward, Austin Riley Webb, Halle Claire White, Bailey Grace Whiteford, Sydney Michele Whitesides, Ashton Kyli Williams, Kelly Ann Williams, Olivia Grace Williamson, Damien Paul Wilson, Morgan Nicole Wilson, Chase Thomas Witcher, Lucas O’Connor Woods, Jacob Warner Wright, Zoie Morgan Wyatt, Brittney Nicole Young and Hannah Reece Young.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.