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Southside High hosts socially distanced graduation

On Wednesday evening, Southside High School graduated 82 seniors at a socially-distanced ceremony held at the school’s football field.

Southside High’s Air Force JROTC Instructor Lt. Col. Steve Ruiz thanked everyone for attending an unusual but memorable ceremony before the Class of 2020 marched out onto the field wearing their caps, gowns and face masks.

After Ruiz led the students and their watchful parents in a rendition of the National Anthem and Coach John Rand Smith opened the ceremony with an invocation, the students and their guest heard from the Class of 2020’s salutatorian, Alexis Blevins, and valedictorian, Jameril Sturdivant.

Blevins spoke about how COVID-19 had impacted the lives of her and her classmates, but encouraged her fellow graduates not to linger on what they lost, but the memories they made.

“Though this pandemic has stopped us from having some of the most important events in our high school lives, let’s reminisce on some of the moments that led up to our final year at Southside High,” said Blevins. “In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘we must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.’ So, as we conclude our high school journey and walk through the doors of life, I encourage you to pursue infinite hope and optimism and push forward to a bright and prosperous future with courage, tenacity and determination.”

Sturdivant thanked the teachers who shaped and instructed the Class of 2020 over the years and encouraged her classmates to be the best that they can be as they leave high school.

“Congratulations and best wishes, Class of 2020,” she said.