Oxford says goodbye to special class of 2014
By John Davis
Joyous chatter, filled with intermittent laughter and the occasional song, finally slowed just before six o’clock. That was the start time for Oxford High’s 2014 graduating class to start the procession that led them from the bowels of C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum to the floor that was overlooked by countless family members.
Thursday night was the last time the first graduating class to attend the new $30 million high school got together. Instead of tears, there were smiles, and hugs that seemed to last forever.
For a class that had to adjust to moving campus sites and classrooms, there were a bevy of award winners and scholars.
The 2014 class had more Star students than any other year at OHS and a double-digit amount of Merit Scholar award winners. That doesn’t even measure the amount of scholarships earned, both academically and athletically, by the special class totaling 198.
“It was a great year, transitioning to the new high school. We were a little apprehensive about the move in the middle of the year, but it went smoothly. The staff rose to the occasion and really got it rolling,” OHS principal Mike Martin said minutes before presenting the graduates to the crowd. “This is my fourth year at the high school and seventh year with the school district and this class, I’ve know them since they started at the middle school when I was there. I got to know them well in middle school and then they moved to the high school with me. I know them as well as any class. It’s a special, special class.”
Mark Zhao was one of three students who offered words of wisdom during the class meditation part of the ceremony. He urged his classmates to take risks and to have initiative as they move on in life.
“Whether we’re going to college, the military or straight into the work force, these next few years are for us to find what we like to while we procrastinate. I do know that we won’t find that in front of a TV screen, however, I don’t know what’s in store for us, and neither do you,” Zhao said. “Once we stop defining our accomplishments and ourselves by some ambiguous metric that we call success and instead faithfully follow our hearts by any means possible, success will find us.”
Grace Gillespie gave the class farewell, and made sure to thank the teachers that touched her life, while taking about the mixed emotions almost all of the graduates were feeling sitting in their seats.
“It’s not easy to grasp that we won’t be walking down those halls everyday or seeing each other’s face each morning,” Gillespie said. “No more Friday nights at Bobby Holcomb Field, no more rehearsals with dad in our beloved auditorium and no more early-morning band practices on a dew covered field. Everything changes when we walk across this stage today. Wherever we end up, we will always remember this school and all the memories that come with it.”
Superintendent Brian Harvey offered very kind words for the class, and the year they had.
“As a school year comes to a close, it has been a joy to see our students grow academically and become challenged and inspired to reach their full potential. This school year, we were recognized as an all “A” school district by the Mississippi Department of Education for the first time in our school district’s history is a high academic honor our students achieved. Our students have continued to excel in athletics, arts and academics at each school, and our teachers and staff have continued to inspire our students to raise the bar in these areas,” Harvey said.
“Teachers are presenting students with new knowledge and ways of learning that allow them to pursue their personal academic paths to be the 21st century students we want them to be. It is our educational responsibility to continue to present new knowledge and ways of learning through various educational resources, whether we are using technology in the classroom or real life application. The Oxford School District has had another extraordinary school year and plans are in motion to promise this and more for our students next school year.”