The William Byrd High School Class of 2018 celebrated the end of their high school careers with Senior Day on May 29.
They started out their day in the gym with a biscuit breakfast, dressing in their caps and gowns, then boarding buses to visit the home elementary schools they had attended from kindergarten through fifth grades—the start of a trip back in time to the beginning of their 13-year journey through Roanoke County schools.
At Herman L. Horn Elementary, 53 seniors paraded through the halls (welcomed and led by Principal Peggy Stovall and Assistant Principal Leanne Leftwich) which were lined with all the students of the school clapping and cheering them on with chants of “Let’s Go Terriers, Let’s Go.”
After the walk through the halls, the seniors were treated to a reception in the school cafeteria, welcomed back to the “Beehive” and watched videos of school programs they had participated in from 2006-2009. There was much laughter as they recognized their younger selves performing in “Holiday Spectacular at the O.K. Corral,” and other shows. HLH students had made them cards and posters congratulating them on their accomplishments.
Other seniors visited Mount Pleasant Elementary, W. E. Cundiff, and Bonsack Elementary schools, where they were greeted with the same respect and enthusiasm.
The students then returned to William Byrd where they continued the trip down memory lane with a video prepared by the Burton Center of Arts and Technology which brought a few tears and more laughter with scenes from past years and senior year.
There was pizza, the decorating of graduation caps, then dressing once again in graduation garb for an assembly honoring the class. They marched into the gym to “Pomp and Circumstance” as the entire student body stood to applaud.
WBHS Principal Tammy Newcomb shared some of her own colorful memories of the class she has worked with as principal at both William Byrd Middle and William Byrd High from the time they were in sixth grade. She recalled being called to a classroom to assist a student with a pencil embedded deeply in her leg, one who had fast food delivered by his grandmother for lunch every day, and one who managed to break both arms in gym class.
She recognized senior Ashton Ashley who never missed a day of school in 13 years, Nick Leslie who has earned his Eagle Scout rank, and Matthew Butler who has represented the JDRF as an ambassador since 2013 as an advocate for juvenile diabetes.
She commended Khalil Fonder for winning eight state championships in swimming through the years—the most possible–and moving on to Arizona State to swim for the renowned Michael Phelps. She thanked students Corey Robinson, Matthew Tench, and Hunter Board for electing to serve their country by entering the military upon graduation.
She announced that the Class of 2018 has earned $3,113,177 in scholarship awards and that 219 will be attending college.
Retiring WBHS faculty members were honored—guidance counselor Gayle Patterson Majure, and teachers David Marcum, Bev Allman, and Karen Hicks.
Senior Class sponsor Whitney Puckett was chosen by the Class of 2018 as faculty speaker for the Senior Assembly, described as their “Most Inspiring Teacher” and “Everyone’s Mom.” She urged students to “learn to embrace failure as a means to success and to recognize the difference between happiness and joy,” saying that true joy comes from offering up your life to something greater than your own happiness, and from loving others more than yourself.”
The student body voted Armando Damian the winner of the graduation cap decorating contest. Caleb Carawan was thanked for leading the Dog Pound as a senior, along with the SCA Class Council members Luis Jerez (president), J.J. Seymore (vice president) and members Ozioma Anyanwu, Jeanette Sako, Cullen Livingstone, and Chris Spano.
Then the torch was passed to the Class of 2019 with the naming of the new Dog Pound leaders, Tanner Hough and Jordan Webb, and new Senior Class Council leaders. Next year Anna McSherry will serve as Senior Class president with Megan Stinette as vice president, along with council members Hunter Bohon, Madelyn Nance, Megan Grant, and Emily Woods.
The Class of 2018 will next celebrate together at their graduation on June 8 at 11:30 at the Salem Civic Center.