ROCKSPRINGS — The eight valedictorians and one salutatorian of the Meigs High School Class of 2019 shared a video message with the friends and classmates during Friday evening’s commencement exercises at Meigs High School.
Valedictorians for the Class of 2019 were Cole Dillon Durst, Lydia Elise Edwards, Madison Lynn Fields, Allison Grace Hanstine, Evan Edward Hennington, Hayley Gabrielle Lathey, Shalynn Marie Dawn Mitchell, and Marissa Lynn Noble.
Durst is the son of Jimmy Durst and Pam Trussell. Edwards is the daughter of Heather Fry-Bentley and John Bentley. Fields is the daughter of Terry and Jodi Fields. Hanstine is the daughter of Thomas and Sally Hanstine. Hennington is the son of Billie and Scott Hennington. Lathey is the daughter of Greg and Elizabeth Lathey. Mitchell is the daughter of Misty and David Mitchell. Noble is the daughter of Jeff and Lana Noble.
The Salutatorian was Matthew James Jackson. Jackson is the son of David Jackson and Tricia Adams.
As part of the graduation ceremony, Class of 2002 Meigs graduate Evan Shaw worked with the valedictorians and salutatorian on a special video project in place of the traditional speeches. The video featured all eight of the valedictorians, as well as the salutatorian, delivering a message or a challenge to their classmates and those in attendance.
“Purpose is driven by passion,” said Hanstine, noting that three of her passions — working with children, health and wellness and helping others — are what have dictated her future. “Even if you passion does not earn you the highest salary pursue it. It’s not about what you are doing but why you are doing it. If it doesn’t make you happy it is not worth doing.”
“My wish for all of you is to see what excites you; seek your passion; and seek your purpose. But above all remember that you had a purpose before anyone had an opinion,” concluded Hanstine.
“If you have confidence in your self and believe in your abilities then those around you will have to do the same,” said Fields. “As cliché as it sounds believing in yourself is truly the key to success. I truly believe that each of you are capable of amazing things.”
Fields concluded, “So Class of 2019 go out into the world and do great things and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams.”
“One of the things I have learned over the past few years is to surround yourself with the right people,” said Durst, mentioning his family, friends and church family.
“I keep those people close because I know that they are for me, that they have my best interest in mind. I like to call these people stress-free people because when you are around them it seems like all of life’s fears, doubts and worries seem to go away. It’s like taking a mini vacation when you’re around them,” added Durst.
Durst concluded, “And I’ve learned that in order to have friends like that you have to be a friend like that. So I encourage you to make it your goal, make it your mission that every morning when you wake up tell yourself to be a blessing to someone. Whether it’s an encouraging word or what ever, but be a blessing to someone and I guarantee that the right people that you need will eventually make their way into your life.”
Lathey shared a personal note on overcoming obstacles in life and not letting your circumstances define you.
“Your circumstances do not define you. How would I know this, I have been blessed with a very good life and achieved things I never would have dreamed of. But what’s hidden behind the achievements is the motivation that drives them,” said Lathey.
”When I was born I had three blood clots and one was located in the left side of my brain. This caused weakness on my right side. It is always there and there were things I was told I could never do. But at a very young age I decided to change my story,” said Lathey. “It would have been very easy to play the victim role and let my disability dictate my life but that is not the life I choose.”
Lathey concluded, “I want you to know that no matter what you are facing or will face in the future you are the only person that can change it. Do not let your circumstances get in the way of your success.”
“After four years of high school one of the most important things I have learned is that the biggest set back to having a great life is settling for a good life. Don’t settle for average or mediocrity. Don’t settle for a good life by staying comfortable in your current situation, live up to your full potential,” said Edwards.
Edwards quoted Elias A. Zerhouni, saying, “You can’t fit a large box into a small box and you can’t put a full life into a small dream box.”
”Having small dreams consigns yourself to a life full of frustration and mediocrity. When we dream big we must also learn to enjoy the process of striving to improve. The process not the end result enriches our lives. Failure is inevitable whether we are doing what we love or not,” said Edwards.
“Go for the things that inspire you and that you love. Many of us may choose our paths because of fear disguised as practicality don’t let that be you. Nothing is too far out of our reach. Use every new day as an opportunity to chase your dreams,” concluded Edwards.
Hennington took the opportunity to issue a challenge to the Class of 2019 rather than give a message.
”Over the course of our years at MHS we have developed friendships and rivalries. My challenge to you — and which I will take up as well — is to forget all of our hatreds toward our former classmates. Tonight we are here as one, we all made it to this point together. So take the time to congratulate our classmates and wish them well, shake their hands, make amends and forget the past,” said Hennington.
Hennington concluded, “Tonight we begin a new chapter in our lives so let’s move forward without hatreds or enemies. Tonight I ask that you give everybody a clean slate. Let’s move forward and only remember the good times that we’ve had here and forget the bad. perhaps after tonight the people that you once considered enemies you can now call friends…. Congratulations Class of 2019, we have done it together.”
In her message, Noble said, “Everyone experiences failure at some point in their life whether it be small or substantial. It can be very difficult to deal with failure.”
“The key to overcoming these obstacles it to maintain a positive attitude and work hard. It’s much better to try and fail than to not have tried at all. From a setback comes knowledge and with knowledge you can do great things. Be constructive and learn from the situation. Remind yourself every successful person has failed numerous times throughout their journey. You are not a failure, you simply had a setback that can enable you to have an even greater comeback. Remember, it’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get back up,” said Noble.
Mitchell focused on the meaning of success and how to measure success.
“I don’t believe that success should be measured by the amount of money or material things that somebody has. I believe that success should be measured by our willingness to help others achieve their goals while achieving our own, “said Mitchell.
”Helping others isn’t always easy. Sometimes it may even seem as if it is derailing our own schedule. But helping others will pave the way to true triumphs,” added Mitchell.
“The most important thing I have learned in my four years at Meigs High School is that it is nearly impossible to do everything along. … We must be willing to accept help when we need it and give help to those in need. Our goal shouldn’t be to become the best, our goal should be to help ourselves and those around us become the best versions of themselves. After all, the sweetest success is the one we get to share with those around us,” said Mitchell.
She concluded by quoting an African Proverb which says, “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.”
Salutatorian Jackson was the final person to give his message in the video, stating, “Some of you tonight, you have your life plan set in stone, whether you continue your education or go into the workforce. But beyond tonight do your plans lead to where your heart is telling you or are they plans for those around you expect you to take?”
“Life can be unexpected so if your heart is not truly in your plan, step off the path. It may be rough but forge your own way through life. Molding your life to someone else’s plan will only satisfy them and leave you unhappy. Don’t neglect the plans you’ve set for yourself and follow your heart to achieve what you desire. Don’t be someone else’s puppet. Do the unexpected and make your future yours,” concluded Jackson.
Meigs High School Class of 2019 graduate are Cole Robert Adams, Noah Bradford Anderson, Nicholas Hunter Andrew, Breanna Lea Baker, Kacie Braylynn Ballard, Haley Danielle Bartley, Zachary Fenton Bartrum, Rhett Edgar Beegle, Carly Marie Begg, Cager Micajah Belcher, Johnathon Cole Betzing, Kassidy Elise Betzing, Kylee Lauren Blanks, Kloey Dawn Bonecutter, Ezra Thomas Briles, Layne Mavrick Caldwell, Jillian Marie Casto, Nicholas Scott Casto, Donavin Michael Lee Chapman, Jamey Clair Clark, Deidra Dyan Cleland, Jasmine Louvernia Conley, Joseph Ray Cotterill, Madison Mae Cremeans, Allison Marie Cunningham, Victoria Grace Curtis,
Cooper Thomas Darst, Dylan Michael Davidson, Bruce William Davis, Brody Aaron Dellavalle, Billi Renea Doczi, Josie Mariah Donohue, Cole Dillon Durst, Lydia Elise Edwards, Madison Ambrosia Ennos, Katelin JoAnna Ferguson, Madison Lynn Fields, Hannah Renee Fortner, Cynthia Joann Frederick, Hannah Jean Frontz, Alyssa Mae Goheen,
Clayton Lee Hanna, Allizon Grace Hanstine, Gavin Cade Harder, Austin Tyler Hart, Danielle Nicole Heighton, Evan Edward Hennington, Brandon Derek Holley, Shayla Madison Honaker, Elizabeth Anne Hook, Tiffani Amber-Nycole Jacks, Matthew James Jackson, Jonathan Wendell Johnson II, Tyler Jordan Johnson, Chase Brady Jones, Brandon George Justis, Alysha Dawn King, Alyssa Dawn King, Austin Ray King, Kaleb Riley King, Kole Evan Lambert, Molly Ann Landaker, Ailiana Leigha Large, Hayley Gabrielle Lathey, Ryan Levi Lauer, Abigail Renee Legg, Nicholas Ryan Lilly,
Hailey Ashley Marcum, Jenna Nicole Marshall, David Allaxander Mash, Dalton Taylor Mayes, Shaylla Ceairea Mayes, Bailey Kiersten McClintic, Harley Eugene McDonald, Thomas Clifford Minshall II, Shalynn Marie Dawn Mitchell, Caden Derrick Morrison, Sean Michael Myers, Claytin Lane Neutzling, Wyatt Jalen Nicholson, Marissa Lynn Noble, Ciera Paige Older, Carrie Estelle Owensby, Travis Eugene Painter, Victoria Constance Partlow, Tyler Lee Pavich, Brendan Conner Payne, Nicholas Ryan Pooler, Alexander David Priddy, Rebecca Lynn Pullins,
Brody Wallace Reynolds, Marcus Allen Richards, Hannah Lee Ridenour, Graci Brooke Riffle, Hayden Stephen Roach, Kori Michelle Robie, Matthew Parker-William Robinson, David Richard Robson, Caroline Renee Roush, Jacob Allen Roush, Alyssa Ann Rowe, Brittany Cheyenne Rowley, Taylor Danielle Sands, Brandon Ray Sayre, Elaina Grace Scarberry, Mikayla Elizabeth Schwendeman, Seth Allyn Shaver, Sheryl Summer Sions, Gloria Marie Sisson, Alyssa Breanne Smith, Bradley Ryan Smith, Carter Max Smith, Wesley Allen Smith, William Eugene Smith,
Alexis Lee Ann Stegall, Kenneth Ryan Stewart, Maegan Renae Abigail Stewart, Taylor Dawn Swartz, Hannah Nicole Tackett, Chelsea Dawn Thomas, Shawn Evan Thomas, Aaliyah Marie Tobin, Alexis LeAnn Pearl Tobin, Ashton Mackenzie Lynn Vance, Draven Lee Walker, Carolyn Rileigh Ward, Justin Donald Ward, Chloe Ranae White, Alexsia Nevaeh Whittekind, Tessa Paige Will, Sara Lisabeth Williams, Joshua Michael Wilson, Dalton Allen Workman, Brady Thomas Young, Kevin Patrick Young, Savannah Marie Zeigler, and Sydney Danielle Zirkle.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.