Class of 2017

From Kanye to chicken nuggets, Pass High grads ready for the world

PASS CHRISTIAN -- Pass Christian High School valedictorian Ian Taylor dug deep when delivering his speech during Friday's commencement ceremony in the school's gym.

"I think Kanye West has a different understanding of what it means to be 18," he said.

He closed his speech by name-checking West and quoting some of the lyrics from his song, "Only One."

"Like Yeezus (West) said, 'Just like the morning sun, you keep rising till the sky knows your name ...'

"Remember who you are."

Taylor, who said he plans to attend Millsaps College in Jackson, had to follow salutatorian Kaylee Null, who brought down the house with her address.

While reminiscing about her school experience for the past 12 years, she received a big round of applause when she reflected on a school cafeteria delicacies.

"Remember all of the good times we've had -- including running to the front of the line on chicken nugget day," she said.

Null and Taylor were two of 77 students who graduated with honors, which is more than half of the class of 134 graduates.

Last good-byes

Friday's ceremony was not only the final act for seniors at the school, it was also the last night for two longtime faculty members.

Pass schools Superintendent Beth John, who recently announced she'll be retiring, delivered the opening remarks to the graduating class.

"We have something in common," she said. "We are all about to enter different chapters of our lives."

Friday also marked the end of the road for athletic director and boys basketball coach Buddy Kennedy. Kennedy also had announced his plans to retire.

"It's a bittersweet moment for me," he said. "Graduation is such an important event and I've been participating in graduations for 23 years."

The face of bravery

Although all of the graduates had ups and downs their senior year, Allison Hennessey, who has a brain disorder called Arnold-Chiari malformation, discovered she had to abruptly leave school at the end of the first semester to have brain surgery in New York.

She said she was nervous about Friday night's ceremony.

"What if I trip and fall on these heels because I haven't worn them in a while," she said. "I'm almost as nervous as when I had brain surgery."

While other seniors had plans for post-graduation parties, Hennessey, who graduated with honors, said she had other plans.

"I'm just going to spend some time with my family," she said.

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