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Eagles take flight on graduation day

The Prince Edward County High School (PECHS) 2019 Commencement exercises took place Saturday, May 18, at the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, Sr. Gymnasium at Prince Edward County Middle School. Family and friends lined the gym as seniors, adorned in purple and gold, took center stage filling the gymnasium floor. Years in the making — graduation day had arrived with all the pomp and circumstance the students so richly deserved.

PECHS Principal Gwendolyn McQuaige-Hicks addressed the class and stated, “We are celebrating the class of 2019.” She told the students, “I have one final request – when you pursue your next chapter in life … I want you to lead fearlessly. I also want you to lead with passion. But most of all I want each of you to fly high!

Beulah Womack, Chairman of the Prince Edward County School Board, had this to say, “Wisely choose the company that you keep.” She congratulated the students on behalf of the school board and extended congratulations to them and their families.

Dr. Michelle Edmonds of Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) said for the class of 2019 there were 19 students who through dual enrollment completed the Associates of Arts and Science degree and 12 who earned certificates. Edmonds welcomed them to its alumni and wished them the best on their future endeavors.

Commencement speaker Dr. Odessa Pride – former Principal of PECHS and current Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors, Hampden District 401 addressed the students saying, “Class of 2019 we celebrate all of you!” Throughout her speech Dr. Pride emphasized the importance of friends and the different roles they play in ones life. She encouraged students to thank their teachers saying, “Today you need to honor teachers for all they have done for you.” Dr. Pride once again emphasized the importance of friends and then broke out into song singing “That’s what friends are for,” encouraging the audience to sing along – which they did. Students and the audience joined in with a large round of applause for all at the end. Dr. Pride closed wishing the graduates, congratulations and good luck!

Valedictorian Rachel Kinzer told the graduates, “We are diverse group of people … and it’s important to show our gratitude and appreciation.” Kinzer specifically thanked her tennis coach for his wisdom, noting his famous line “I don’t call you son because you are mine— I call you son because you shine.”

Superintendent of PECPS Dr. Barbara A Johnson told the students, “I am so proud of you. It warms my heart to look at you and at how dignified you are and how ready you are.” She went on to say, “I want you to know your worth and your value. You have something to contribute to this world.” It’s going to look different for all of you.” Secondly, she stated, “You are decision makers.” And thirdly, “I want you to know you cannot make it in this world by yourself.” Johnson encouraged students to embrace life but also understand how to accept help. In conclusion she said, “you will go into the world as proud, confident citizens and Eagles.”