New Kent High School 2020 graduates will ‘Impact the World’
Four days of graduates; four days of celebrating the accomplishments of New Kent High School’s Class of 2020.
Approximately 227 graduates were honored at New Kent High School’s graduation ceremonies that took place from June 8-11 inside of the high school’s auditorium.
Despite the conditions of the modified graduation from its traditional home inside of VCU’s Siegel Center, seniors were met inside the library before receiving opportunities for multiple photo opportunities down the hallway leading to the auditorium. Senior athletes were able to sign sports equipment related to their sport, and family members were greeted by staff and others along the way.
Senior class president Spencer Gilland welcomed classmates, commenting that his speech would be short like a goldfish’s attention span of five seconds.
“This year has taught us to be grateful,” he said. “The lessons that we have learned in high school has prepared us to learn a few things.
“Life is unfair and it’s ungrateful,” Gilland continued. “As we graduate, we have learned the essence of friendship, leadership and hard work.”
After thanking teachers, the class president left one last comment for his classmates.
“COVID-19 may have stopped our initial surge, but it won’t stop us from getting that bread [money] in the future,” he concluded.
Class Salutatorian Calvin Reeves opened his speech by thanking teachers and faculty, throwing in a joke at Superintendent of Schools Brian Nichols and his choice of wearing Converse and Jordan sneakers. He moved on into comparing the journey of high school as a race.
“Before even starting, you are extremely excited,” he said. “However, just like a race, once we started we felt it.
“We felt the hard work, long hours, and sweat and tears it took to achieve what we wanted,” Gilland continued. “But then suddenly we reached the last lap and started nearing the end.
“Senior year was a time we all looked forward to and now that we’ve completed the last lap of the race and even though it wasn’t what perhaps we thought it would be, we’ve reached the finish line.”
The salutatorian reminded classmates that graduation was a beginning, not an end.
“We are not done yet. Life is full of hurdles for us to jump,” Gilland added. “There will never be a time where there won’t be any problems, and there shouldn’t be.
“What’s the point of trying to solve or fix something or do something important or a life worth living if there isn’t anything to make it better,” he said as he wrapped up his speech. “I think, personally, that is the part of the beauty of life and something we all sometimes take for granted. Leave the world a little better than how you found it.”
Valedictorian Alayna Loveland opened up her monologue by saying how much she felt honored, but said it was about her classmates and the Class of 2020.
“Whether it be a personal challenge or an educational challenge, we’ve all been up against something,” she said. “regardless, there was always that light at the end of the tunnel.
“That one day when your family would gather with the sole purpose of celebrating you and the great accomplishment that you’ve made, it makes me truly ecstatic to be able to say that day has come.”
Loveland continued by emphasizing her classmates to remember those whose supported them along the way and not be afraid to stumble.
“Do not focus on past mistakes, but instead, embrace them,” the valedictorian continued. “Remember to keep in touch with the friends you’ve made over the years as well as your former teachers.
“Further, I challenge each of you to always keep two questions in the back of your mind: Who do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered?
“Apply these questions to the choices you make and allow them to sway your decisions,” Loveland added as she began to conclude her speech. “Keep a balance between confidence and humility; try not to tip the scale too far in either direction.
“Lastly, when you look back on your days as a New Kent Trojan, do not dwell on the events you missed out on. Instead, celebrate the things you loved doing, the memories you were able to make, and the people you made them with,” Loveland finished off with.
New Kent High School principal Chris Valdrighi praised the outgoing Class of 2020 and provided them words of encouragement as they prepare for their futures.
“The last three to four months and particularly the last several days and weeks have been difficult,” he said. “You, as a group, have been tested like no other class I can recall.
“You are resilient. You are battle tested. You are tough,” Valdrighi continued. “For the past 12 years you have been identified not always as individuals, but rather as members of different groups, clubs, activities, or teams that you have participated in.
“However, you within those groups, are diverse, dynamic, talented, and unique individuals,” the principal continued. “As you leave us, there has never been a more appropriate or needed time for you to step forward as individuals and forge your own path.
“Each of you is uniquely qualified to create change for the betterment of everyone,” Valdrighi added as he began his final comments. “It will be up to you, as an individual, to recognize what you can do and then actually have the courage to do it. Go out and pursue the change you want to see in the world. The choices you make will help create a better society for all to live in.”
Superintendent of Schools Brian Nichols provided an outgoing message of positivity to New Kent High School’s Class of 2020.
“Each of those challenges provided an opportunity to show how successful and resourceful you are,” he said. “You passed each of those challenges with flying colors.
“These are not easy times, but we will get them together because we are New Kent Strong,” Nichols continued. “I know that with your leadership, I know that the world will be stronger because of your impact.
“Remember that impact doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because of people like you,” the superintendent continued. “Make it your life’s work to remake the world because there is nothing better than to leave behind something that is better for humanity.”
“You are leaving New Kent better because of your impact,” Nichols said as he wrapped up his comments. “I will leave you with seven words that are the backbone of what I do every day. Work hard, have fun, make a difference.”
*Reporter Robb Johnson contributed to this story.*