Jackson County School District Superintendent Barry Amacker looked out at the East Central High School graduating class of 180.
“When I first took this job, you all were in the second grade,” he said Friday night at the Coast Coliseum. “You were all so cute!” he recalled, and speaking on his vulnerability at the time, “I had the word ‘sucker’ all over my forehead.
“Look at you now. You’re all still cute and I still have ‘sucker’ on my forehead.”
With 31 of the 180 grads leaving with honors and 36 with special honors, East Central Assistant Superintendent Mary Tanner was motivated to call the 2017 class one of the school’s most productive, based on their No. 3 rankings in academics in the state.
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Principal James Hughey called the class “one of the best well-rounded,” demonstrated by the senior classes attracting more than $4.9 million in scholarships.
“Now we have the opportunity of a lifetime,” valedictorian Sarah Eyre said. “We can do whatever we want. We have the potential to guide our nation to continued prosperity. Soon, we will all become entrepreneurs, professional athletes, Nobel Peace Prize winners, teachers, engineers, inventors, leaders, actors, musicians and guardians of mankind.”
Eyre quoted excerpts of a poem: “Just because the path is long doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it. Just because the road is steep doesn’t mean you can’t make it. Just because it’s not done yet doesn’t mean we can’t do it. We have the potential to accomplish great things … to make a change for the better.”
Eyre and class historian Emily Byars are the school’s two National Merit Finalists. Eyre plans to attend Texas A&M University to study aerospace.
Salutatorian Katlyn Scott will first attend Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, then transfer to the University of South Alabama to study to become a labor and delivery nurse. Byars plans on double-majoring in musical theater and musical business at South Alabama.
On a more serious note, Amacker passed on his personal motto to the graduates: “Press on.”
East Central High School
Valedictorian: Sarah Eyre, daughter of Aaron and Elizabeth Eyre
Salutatorian: Katlyn Scott, daughter of Christy Scott
Historian: Emily Byars, daughter of Shawn and Vicky Byars
Class Size: 180
Principal: James Hughey
Class song: “Verge” by Owl City
Class flower: Dandelion
Quote: “We laughed until we had to cry; we loved right down to the last goodbye; but over the years, we’ll smile and recall just for one moment we had it all.” — Anonymous