Ready for the future: SHS holds 2018 graduation

The Starkville High School class of 2018 graduated Friday night at Humphrey Coliseum. The class included 325 seniors. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

In front of a multitude of loved ones from Starkville and beyond, the 325 seniors of Starkville High School’s class of 2018 graduated Friday night.

The ceremony was held in Humphrey Coliseum, and celebrated a class with impressive stats, including one student heading to an Ivy League university, Mississippi’s Distinguished Young Woman, two STAR Students, and a large number of Mississippi State University Presidential Scholars and other scholarship recipients.

Sean Mackin was valedictorian and Abigail Musser was salutatorian.

“Thank you for making it across this stage tonight,” said SHS Principal Sean McDonnall. “Thank you for your presence in our hallways the last 13 years. Thank you for allowing us to watch
you grow and become wonderful young adults. Thank you for applying yourselves, getting involved and making a difference, getting college and career ready.”

McDonnall also thanked teachers and parents for their role in the students’ education.

“At the beginning of the year, I asked you to turn in a college acceptance letter, a submitted job application or a letter of acceptance to a branch of the military, and you all did it,” McDonnall told the class. “You are ready for the next step. Please understand that this milestone is just the beginning. Where you go is the end result of you, but we feel confident that each of you are ready for whatever life brings your way.”

For her salutatorian speech, Musser surprised the class and the audience by sharing the speech with Sarah Heard, whose GPA was less than three thousandths of a point lower than Musser’s.

In their shared speech, Musser and Heard focused on everyone having different strengths and weaknesses, and using them to support each other.

“It’s good to surround yourself with people of different strengths,” Musser said. “All throughout high school, both Sarah and I have seen how important it is to utilize our classmates in areas where we aren’t prepared.”

The two discussed going to Mackin for help in math courses, and to Class President Tyler Dickerson for help with video editing.

“Whether you’re going to college, vocational school, the military or the workforce, we encourage you to take the difficult path, because it’s often the most rewarding,” Heard said.

Musser will attend MSU, while Heard will attend the University of Pennsylvania.

In his valedictorian speech Mackin discussed the importance of support from family, teachers and friends on the journey. He thanked several SHS educators individually, including McDonnall, Assistant Principal Ginger Tedder, math teacher Vijay Pacharne, Choir Director Regina Weeks and history teacher Ty Adair.

“As we depart and scatter, I want to leave this class with these requests,” Mackin said. “First, try to achieve your dreams no matter how big. I don’t want you to live a life of regrets and what ifs. Secondly, leave this world a better place than you came into. If we can do these two things, we can lead the way into a more beautiful, brighter future for all of those who come after us.”

Mackin will attend New York University after graduation.

“We have strived to provide to each of you, an education that’s rigorous and relevant in every classroom, every day, preparing you guys to be college and career ready,” McDonnall said. “This is your greatest day in the Jacket Nation.”