Seniors on their way

PHOTO:C. Todd Sherman
Tupelo High School graduates toss their mortar boards into the air after their graduation ceremony at the BancorpSouth Arena on Friday.

By Ginny Miller
Daily Journal

Leaving four years of high school behind came down to one word for Whitnei Betts on Friday.

“It feels like whoo! It's finally here,” said the 18-year-old, who picked up her diploma from Tupelo High School in a ceremony at the BancorpSouth Arena.
In all, 340 members of the THS Class of 2008 graduated. Twenty-two of them, including valedictorian Jin Jing Huang, sat in special places of honor for having 4.0 grade-point averages.

The Tulane-bound student, 18, has mixed feelings about graduating. “It's kind of both exciting and anxious,” she said. “I still haven’t decided my major. But I'm really excited. This is a big move.”

Before heading off to Mississippi State University in the fall, Mary Page Billingsley, 18, and Alex Aldy, 17, will celebrate their new status as high school graduates on a trip to New York City with their mothers.

“We're going to see 'Wicked,'” Billingsley said.

Added Aldy: “We're going to have high tea at the Plaza Hotel.”

Other graduates opted for the beach. David Haadsma and Josh Tucker will travel with separate groups of friends to Destin.

“High school was good, but I'm ready to see what I've got next,” said Haadsma, 17. He will attend the University of Mississippi and plans to major in international studies.

Aspiring chemical engineer Tucker, 18, will see many of his high school friends when he's at MSU this fall.

“I'm excited to go to State, but I'm a little anxious,” he said. “You get out of the house and you don’t have the safety net of mom and dad.”

Still, Tucker said, “I'm ready to move on.”

Also ready to move on are Nettleton’s 74 graduates.
After an invocation by Jordan Hodges, the salutatory address was delivered by David “Trey” Doherty, also the school's Star Student.

Valedictorian Daveeda Collins made her remarks to the crowd as before the diplomas were handed out in a short ceremony. Raina Irene Dupree was the only student to graduate with honors from the National Technical Honor Society.

Besides Collins, Doherty and Dupree, Beta graduates were Jamison Ray Boland, Andreastasha R. Clark, Ayla Madison Estes, Gregory Luke Johnson, Morgan LaDean Knowles, Zachary Andrew Myers, Anna Kate Parker, Robert C. Sprayberry and Jessica Nicole Walls. Posthumous graduates were William David Corley, Jeffrey T. Martin and Christopher Neil Thomas.

Contact Daily Journal education writer Ginny Miller at 678-1582 or ginny.miller@djournal.com. Also read her education blog, Inside the Backpack. Monroe Journal reporter Jeff Clark contributed to this story.

SEE A FULL LIST OF GRADUATES IN TODAY'S DAILY JOURNAL.