By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – As graduation approached, Tupelo Christian Preparatory School valedictorian Anna Margaret Milam began reflecting on her memories at the school.
Milam led her classmates through several of those memories in her remarks during the school’s commencement ceremony on Friday night at Calvary Baptist Church. Those included several trips: a second-grade excursion to the Memphis zoo, class journeys to Washington, D.C., and Arkansas, and the senior trip to Disney World last month.
“I wanted to speak about how unique and special it is to be able to go to a small school and the advantage of being able to create a family-type environment in your school,” Milam said Friday morning during a practice for the school’s graduation. TCPS’s fourth graduating class was easily its largest, with 28 students earning their diplomas. Last year, the school graduated 17.
“This class is so close,” said guidance counselor Kathryn Clayton. “They are like a family. They watch out for each other and defend each other. They work hard and play hard. They are a good group.”
The class earned a little more than $300,000 in scholarships, Clayton said.
Friday’s ceremony featured each graduate presenting a rose to his or her mother and a special ribbon-cutting ceremony. The guest speaker was Brian Simmons, the president of the Association of Christian Schools International, the school’s accreditation agency.
Salutatorian Mary Beth Willcoxon said before the graduation that her remarks were intended as a motivational speech about how everyone is part of God’s big picture and how God has a plan for everyone.
“Everyone is an individual, and we all have our talents and personalities and everyone is unique,” she said.
Graduate Trevor Sides felt a mixture of emotions during Friday morning’s practice.
“I’m happy and sad,” he said. “It is something I’ve been waiting for my entire life, to move on and go to college, but I’m also worried about if I’ll see my friends again and if I’m ready.”
Fellow graduate Aubrey Collins also noted that she will miss her classmates.
“I’ve known this class so long, and we’ve gotten close through the years,” she said.