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Graduation Day: Bassett grads celebrate
Members of Bassett High School’s Class of 2012 toss their caps in the air Saturday morning at the end of their graduation ceremony on the school’s football field. More than 280 graduates received their diplomas. (Photo by Ray Reynolds)
New Bassett High School graduate Kiara Baldwin, touched by her family’s support, began to cry while a photo with relatives was being taken.
Her grandmother Minister Becky Watkins quickly stepped up and wiped tears from Kiara’s eyes — about the time several others offered hankies.
In all, about 20 members of Kiara’s family — some from as far as Richmond and Tappahannoock — were among the estimated 4,500 people who gathered to watch more than 280 graduates receive their diplomas Saturday morning. The ceremony was held in the football stadium under sunny blue skies.
Some of the student commencement speakers talked about the close friendships and bonds among class of 2012 members.
For Kiara, that comradeship is perhaps even more keen.
Her mother, April Baldwin, said in the 10th grade Kiara started having epileptic seizures, and it took doctors some time to adjust her medicines to get the condition under control.
Kiara sometimes would pass out at school, her mom said. Other students watched out for her, and her teachers worked hard to help her keep up with her schoolwork when she had to miss, said her mom, who got teary eyed as she talked about it.
“I’m so thankful to the Lord she made it,” Watkins said of Kiara’s graduation.
“I feel so excited,” Kiara said, adding she plans to attend High Point University. She aspires to be an athletic trainer and physical therapist.
Family members and friends flooded onto the football field after commencement ended with the graduates hurling their blue or white caps into the sky.
Graduates Hayli DeBauche and Amber Quesinberry said they were excited and happy. Amber said she plans to attend Patrick Henry Community College and transfer to Radford University. She aspires to become a first-grade teacher. Hayli also plans to attend PHCC. She plans to go into cosmetology or another business-related job.
Sue DeBauche, Hayli’s grandmother, said: “I’m so glad this day is here. We’re happy and hoping she will have a bright future.”
According to the commencement program, there were more than 280 graduates, more than 130 of them earning advanced degrees and six earning associate degrees (Megan Nicole McKinney, Lacey Faith Mize, Dhara Ketan Patel, Julia Melissa Teague, Megan Elizabeth Underwood and Emily Brooke Warrick).
Principal Garrett Dillard said three students never missed a day in 13 years of school: Angelia Mayhew, Logan Peters and Tevin Turner.
Dillard said members of the class of 2012 have been awarded $1 million in scholarships so far, and he expects that amount will increase.
He praised the class for other academic, athletic and social achievements, including band members winning a state championship all four years, ROTC achievements and championship sports teams.
The theme of commencement was “Times That Matter.”
Commencement speaker Jordan Janney, class president, said graduates have had times of laughter, school spirit, knowledge, tears, stress and friendships. And she charged them to take time to ponder what their futures hold, as did commencement speaker Megan Underwood. Megan also spoke of how graduates’ past experiences, accomplishments and mistakes have transformed them into better people, more prepared for the world.
Commencement speaker Megan Smallwood spoke of celebrating accomplishments such as surviving the first day of kindergarten and the awkward middle school years, as well as academic and athletic achievements. “Keep succeeding and celebrating and throwing that confetti,” she said, adding that their futures hold even more opportunities for success.
Commencement speaker Julia Teague urged graduates to be thankful for the help and support they have received from classmates, teachers, parents, churches, youth groups, and others.
Commencement speaker Dhara Patel, one of the class historians, spoke of working to achieve dreams, never giving up, learning from hard times and the closeness of this class.
“We are a unit, and I couldn’t be any prouder of this family,” she said.
Graduating summa cum laude were Kelsey Renee Clingenpeel, Brian Mitchell DeHart, Kolton Parker Helbert, Jessica Nicole Hubbard, Jordan Renae Janney, Dhara Ketan Patel, Lucas Clay Prillaman, Sara Elizabeth Ray, Megan Alexandra Smallwood, Julia Melissa Teague, Megan Elizabeth Underwood and Emily Brooke Warrick.
Graduating magna cum laude were Tiffany Nicole Archer, Zachary Kyle Dove, David Dwain Foley, Summer Elizabeth Hoyle, James Andrew Hudson, William Gregory Hylton, Kayla Amber Keith, Thad Dwight Mangum, Matthew Vincent Martin, Megan Nicole McKinney, Lacey Faith Mize, Amy Cierra Patterson and Emily Catherine Wood.
Graduating cum laude were Charles Graves Anthony III, Steven Matthew Beechler, Bridgette LaTae’ Burnette, Bryan James Cassell, Nicholas Cole Cobler, Jason Ray Deskins, Conner Michelle Grindstaff, Marcus Deshawn Hairston, Shameka Nicole Hylton, Kelly Marie Jones, Erin Nicole Knight, Brianna Faith Lemon, Ivan Lopez, Vanessa Nicole Lynch, Nancy Michelle Martin, Kirsten Alexandra Martin, Steven Ryan McDaniel, Tanner Lee Moore, Ronald Logan Peters, Elizabeth Anne Ray, Dessie Inez Roberts, Gunnar Evan Robertson, Chelsea Danielle Turner and Tyler Edward Weeks.