Forty-one students were recognized at the Barrow Foothills graduation ceremony held May 19 at Bethlehem Church. Graduates from both Foothills-Sims and Foothills-Russell were honored at the ceremony which included remarks from Sen. Clinton Dixon (District 45), who serves Barrow and Gwinnett counties in the State Senate.
Sen. Dixon said, “To the families of these graduates, thank you for your encouragement and support. You should be proud you have raised these graduates to value education, demonstrate courage and overcome obstacles and not give up. To the staff and students of Foothills, thank you. Because of your dedication, we are able to celebrate these students tonight. It is a privilege to be a part of celebrating your graduation.”
Rep. Holt Persinger (District 119) was also present and helped congratulate the students after they received their diploma.
Brooklyn Parillo, Barrow-Russell, top site graduate, was among those who spoke, stating, “Each of has our own story of how we got to this very moment. I know we all worked hard to get here… There have been so many times in the past few months where I never saw this day coming for myself. I struggled. I succeeded. I struggled. I succeeded. I will use the lessons that I learned and the mistakes made to better myself.”
She added, “There are so many people I could thank for supporting me all the way to the finish line. The opportunities Foothills has given me are tremendous and I could not thank you enough.”
The Mama Jo Spirit of Foothills Awards went to: Allyson Fowler, Barrow-Russell, and Elias Young, Oglethorpe Foothills. A recorded speech from both students was presented. Students from all Foothills sites can be nominated for this award.
Superintendent Dr. Sherrie Gibney-Sherman introduced the scholarship winners and said the award is named in honor of her mother: “She was a hard worker and she is someone we all should want to emulate.”
Fowler offered thanks to Foothills staff members, including Mr. Farmer for his “constant encouragement” and Mrs. Hunt “for never giving up on me.” She shared that she is the first in her family to graduate high school and she is now planning to attend college to be an educator.
“The staff of Foothills has given me the chance to do more,” she said. “I now want to encourage younger students to believe in themselves and always carry the spirit of Foothills with them.”
Young spoke on the trials and tribulations he encountered during his Foothills journey, including family issues that led him to have to work 60 hours a day while also attending school 30 hours of school.
“Coach Palmer was always a friendly face and someone I could lean on,” he said. “This applies to all of the staff.”
He offered thanks for other Foothills staff members who helped him and his family with resources.
Young is now trained to be a welder, a career that was opened up to him while he was at Foothills.
“I would not be who I am today and where I am today if it wasn’t for the people at Foothills,” he said. “Through them, I have been given the opportunity to find happiness in myself and a trade I love. The people I have met at Foothills have changed my entire perspective.”
Crystal Thomas, led pledge and gave welcoming remarks, including offering thanks to those who were a part of her success at Foothills. “We are very appreciative of all of the support we have received from our family and friends and the dedicated staff at Foothills,” she said.
Students who spoke thanked their mentors for being a part of their success, including Billy Pearson, who said, “I would like to thank my mentor, Mrs. Clayton-Morrison, She pushed me to strive on the days I didn’t want to. I would like to thank my parents for constantly encouraging me to finish high school… I would like to thank all Barrow Foothills for providing a comfortable environment for finishing high school. I would like to thank Foothills itself for giving me a second chance for my future.” Person was on the program to introduce special guests.
In her superintendent’s address, Dr. Gibney-Sherman said, “What a great evening. Thank you, students, for all of the work you did and for giving us something to celebrate tonight.”
Dr. Gibney-Sherman told the graduates, “You are brave. You are smart. You are loved and don’t ever forget that. You are appreciated.”
She also shared, You’re part of a group of 2,974 students who have earned a high school diploma.” She added that many other students have taken credits to get back on track to return to their home high school.
Dr. Gibney-Sherman also gave an update on House Bill 87, which changes will include Foothills being a state completion school instead of a charter school. The name will now be Foothills Regional High School.
During the “open mic” ending to the graduation ceremony, graduates were given the opportunity to come to the podium and offer thanks or any words they would like to share.
One young lady thanked her parents and Foothills staff for helping her on her journey. “I want to thank all of the graduates here,” she added. “You should e proud of yourself. We only get this time once.”
A young man spoke, offering thanks to his mother and his mentor, Miss Amy.
“Thank you both for your support,” he said.
Others on the program were: Irene Munn, regional career pathway coordinator, introduced Sen. Dixon; Deigh Martin, site director, and superintendent Gibney-Sherman, presentation of diplomas; and Stephanie Grant, site director, closing remarks.
Barrow-Russell graduates included: Richard Castleberry, Eric Henningsen, Angel Andres Atencio Laraz, Allyson Fowler, Andrew Jackson, Skylar Nolan, Brooklyn Parillo, Billy Pearson, Jadyn Reed and Shamari Smith Jr.
Barrow-Sims graduates included: Ariella Amend, Success Amoah, Vivian Beicher, Dylan Brice, Tavion Brooks, Faith Burns, Samiah Clark, Jake Cline, Jelani Dumornay, Roosevelt Goguette, Dacia Harris, Jaylon Hester, Levi Jacks, Keion Jackson, Lily Johnson, Linda Limbaugh, Alexis Mack, Zachary McKenzie, Kyle Mulligan, Brendon Reid, Hope Reynolds, Nezarith Rolle, Jamin Sanders, Alexiea Smith, Courtney Snyder, Crystal Thomas, Cole Tomlinson, Tri Cao Truong, Eleanor Walker, Charles Willis and Thomas Yang.
SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS PRESENTED
Site director Hank Ramey presented awards to: Brooklyn Parillo, Top Graduate Award, Barrow-Russell; Eleanor Walker, Top Gradate Award, Barrow-Sims; Skylar Nolan, Second Top Graduate, Barrow-Russell; and Crystal Thomas, Second Top Graduate, Barrow-Sims.
Each student attending a post-secondary school or joining the military received a $200 scholarship.
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