VIDALIA — Rain did not dampen the spirit of Vidalia High School’s graduating Class of 2022 on Friday night.
The commencement ceremony, which had been set to take place at 7 p.m. at the high school football field, was hastily moved to the inside of Vidalia Conference and Convention Center just after the commencement of Concordia Parish Academy’s graduates.
Smiles lit the faces of 64 graduating members of Vidalia High School’s Class of 2022, who marched up to the stage to “Pomp and Circumstance” roughly 40 minutes behind schedule.
Salutatorian Michael Hogan, also known as “Mickey,” kept his wits during his commencement speech.
“When Coach Cooley (Principal Bernie Cooley) called me into his office to tell me about this achievement, I thought ‘Right, because I couldn’t get away without another assignment,” he said.
Hogan said times of uncertainty are ahead of him and his classmates, but he is not worried.
“We’re the students who ended our sophomore year with uncertainty and we are the students who came back to school every day with half of our faces covered with cloth masks,” he said. “But most importantly, we are the students that just made it through high school. If we can do that, we can do anything.”
In his parting message, Hogan shared a quote from Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”
“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft, and never mix up your right from your left. And will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed, 98 and three-quarters percent guaranteed. Kid, you will move mountains.”
Valedictorian Matthew Cooley said as a class, “our high school years have been full of challenges, including our graduation apparently,” noting the sudden change of venue.
He said the hardest part was missing immediate access to teachers and classmates for help during the pandemic.
“That was the hardest part. Our support group was suddenly gone. We couldn’t just walk down the hall and talk to a teacher and get help with whatever we needed. While they tried their best, they weren’t right there with us anymore. … We’ll face that same problem when we go off into the rest of our lives.”
Cooley said one thing to remember when he and his classmates go off to college or careers, their support groups are still there, just a phone call, text or email away.
“You always need to remember that your support group is still there to help you. Whether it’s your old teachers, your family, your friends or your classmates,” he said.
Seven members of the Vidalia High School graduating class received Concordia Parish Diploma Awards, which are given to students who graduate with at least a 2.5-grade point average, master the state’s core curriculum requirements, score a minimum of 22 on their ACT and are involved with dual enrollment with a college or university, Superintendent Toyua Watson said.
Receiving the Concordia Diplomas were Cooley and Hogan, Caroline Barnett, Peyton Dauzat, Avah Videgaray, Zachary Prather and Nathaniel Tatum.
The class also had 17 honor graduates and five special honor graduates, including Cooley and Hogan, Shakyra Blanton, Prather and Trinity Riley.