By Debbie Adams
The William Byrd High School Class of 2022 celebrated graduation at the Salem Civic Center on May 25 – the school’s 99th commencement ceremony.
Graduation opened with a moment of silence for the victims of the school shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the day before and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by SCA President and Valedictorian Emilie McCaskill.
Dog Pound leaders Madison Tuck and Landon Niday led the students and their guests in the Byrd Spirit Song, “The HUM.”
Valedictorian speaker Haley Day talked about influences in life, aspirations, dreams, and character. She advised her peers to “prioritize yourself; chase happiness; find passion, always ask questions, and aim to be good; do everything with good intentions.”
Day congratulated the Class of 2022 for not just surviving, but thriving, during the global pandemic that impacted most of their high school years. She reminded the graduates that they are “not broken; not inept; not unlovable, or any other shortcoming your brain can create for you. Live a life of compassion, curiosity, beauty, and joy.”
WBHS Principal Tammy Newcomb also mentioned the challenges that the Class of 2022 faced throughout their high school careers because of the pandemic – shut down for five months in the spring of 2020; attending school in person just two days a week for much of 2021 with masks and six feet of social distancing, with no pep rallies, no athletics, no dances, no concerts, no clubs, none of the things “that make school fun.” They held the first assembly of their senior year outside in the stadium– but “you still made it the best year.”
Newcomb recognized and honored the building operators who were instrumental in keeping the school open; the school nurse who fulfilled a myriad of duties; cafeteria staff and instructional assistants who prepared and delivered food to students for five months; instructional assistants who mentored, tutored, took temperatures, and covered classes; guidance counselors; teachers who delivered instruction by video, phone, and in-person; the school administration and central office administration and School Board who “stayed the course so you could be here today.”
She asked the Class of 2022 to “lead by example and be someone who always makes being a Terrier a reason to be proud. You bonded, persevered, learned to adjust, learned to value the little things many of us took for granted.
“Graduation is a milestone no one can take from you, but it’s only the beginning,” Newcomb said. “Use what you have learned. If you are going to do a job, do it right. Always be kind to one another and always help those less fortunate.”
Newcomb noted that the Class of 2022 has 264 graduates – 169 of those being Honor Graduates with GPAs of 3.0 or higher that allowed them to wear gold tassels with their caps and gowns. Forty-six earned GPAs of 4.0 or higher and are named valedictorians. Advanced Studies diplomas were awarded to 145 graduates.
She recognized five students who will be entering the military: Carlee Hutchens, who has qualified to enter the elite U.S. Army program for flying helicopters; Bryson Lish and Nicholas Sparks, who will be entering the U.S. Army; and Dyson Spence and Matthew Hoyos, who will be serving in the U.S. Navy.
Graduate Emilie McCaskill was recognized for earning her associate degree at Virginia Western Community College while earning her high school diploma.
Newcomb read a lengthy list of student athletes who will be continuing their athletic careers in college, including Griffin Horacek, the first-ever Roanoke County student to be recruited for E-sports.
She recognized two Byrd students who completed the Student Apprenticeship Program: Alec Theodor and Dyson Spence.
Of the 264 graduates, 187 will be attending a two- or four-year college or university or trade school. Sixty-seven have secured jobs in the workplace.
Currently, the Class of 2022 has accepted $1.5 million in scholarship grants and scholarships.
“Each student here today is a symbol of success,” Newcomb emphasized.
She recognized two teachers who are retiring – German teacher Barbara Hassell (German) and Martha Gilchrist (ELL).
Newcomb closed her address with a quotation from Franklin Roosevelt, “We cannot always build the future for our children, but we can build our children for the future. We believe we have done that.”
The final address of the commencement ceremony was from Top Terrier Chloe Harrilla. The Top Terrier is selected each year by the faculty and senior students at WBHS – the highest honor a student can receive.
In her remarks, Harrilla talked about the unique high school experience the Class of 2022 had undergone and having to get used to a new reality. She decided “it’s not the cards you are dealt, it’s what you make of them.
During times of school closures and limited attendance, she learned the importance of forming relationships. She thanked each teacher, administrator, guidance counselor, and coach for “going to the extra mile” to ensure the success of the students in the Class of 2022. “William Byrd has provided us with the tools for success.” She concluded with a quote from Sigmund Freud, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”
The William Byrd Senior Choir, led by choir director Matt Bartley, performed “Fly Away Home.”
Next up was the eagerly awaited “Presentation of Diplomas” beginning with the Valedictorians: Alexa Aquino, Isabel Burnett, Gentry Carle, John Cooley, Emma Copening, Haley Day, Ross Divers, Thomas Dulak, Jr., Bronwyn Fenimore, Haley Firebaugh, Riley Firebaugh, Jade Fleitz, Emiliano Gonzalez, Ethan Hairston, Chloe Harrilla, Griffin Horacek, Matthew Hoyos, Jocelyn Hunter, Carlee Hutchens, Micah Kiker, Devin Liu, Nicholas Long, Jaiden Lorton, Victoria Lovern, Emilie McCaskill, Wesley Nance, Landon Niday, Austin Nielsen, Timber Raines, Joshua Roop, Jaylen Rosser, Mya Rosser, Trevor Ruble, Daniel Sarver, Grace Saunders, William Sayers, Hunter Sipe, Ashlyn Stover, Hannan Sutton, Charles Trogdon, Jr., Madison Tuck, Lana Turner, Amber Vaughn, Cadence Wilkerson, and Kassidy Wrye.
While the graduates were coming to the stage to receive their diplomas from Newcomb, Assistant Principals Marcee Cook and Travis Anderson, Dean of Students Phillip Martin, and School Board members David Linden (chair) and Tim Greenway, their photos and future plans were on display.
Future plans of the Class of 2022 include:
Arizona State University: Joshua Collins
Barton College: Emily Dalton, Ashlynn ReMine
Belmont University: Carter Mullins
College of William and Mary: John Cooley, Grace Saunders
East Tennessee State University: Jasia Wheeler
Emory and Henry College: Ross Divers, Riley Firebaugh, Logan Pekala, Hunter Richards
Entering the Work Force: Tyler Atkins, Jarrett Austin, Simon Band, Darian Banks, Dezmond Barrett, Tyler Begasse, Anastasia Blair, Jonathan Brabham, Shawn Brockerman, Jr., Charleston Campbell, August Carr, Sydney Carriker, Abel Cataneo-Luna, Anna Chitwood, Nicholas Dales, Jr., Michael Davis, Autymn Dillon, Lucas Duncan, Kylea Early, Cassidy Entsminger, Isabella Franco, Fallon Franklin, Nevaeh Guenthner, Austin Hensley, Diryus Henthorn, Kylee Inman, Alek Johnson, Demetrius Love, Logan McDaniel, Wesley McPherson, Dillon Moore, Karsyn Moore, Ethan Nichols, Tanner Nininger, Aidan Nunn, Airic Osborne, Kaylie Pampani, Gage Pritchard, Summer Ramsey, Trevor Reed, Angel Reis, Juan Rodriguez, Mark Sink III, Joseph Spickard, Jason Spradlin, Skylar Stiltner, Logan Stroop, Alec Theodor, Jacob Thorne, Trey Thornton, Brandon Tuck, Travis West, Connor Wheeler, Janiya Williams, Bryce Wolfe, Cross Yonce
Ferrum: Peyton Fuchs, Anna Milliron, William Sayers
Georgia Tech: Emiliano Gonzalez
Hampden-Sydney College: Landon Niday
Hollins University: Bailey Burger, Victoria Lovern, Samantha Shrader
James Madison University: Aiden Brinkley, Remington FiGart, Jade Fleitz, Chloe Harrilla, Jaiden Lorton, Kamryn Sigafoes, Faith Trent, Victoria Watts
Kennelwood Academy: Mackenzie Foley
Lancaster Bible College: Camden Richardson
Liberty University: Nathaniel Andersen, Kendra Baker-Thompson, Jacob Hilliard, Robert Janney, Savannah Martinez, Jenna Nicely, Trevor Ruble, Kendrick South, Madison Tuck
Licensed Cosmetologist at Salon 121 and Spa: Anya Hunter
Limestone University: Cole Spencer
Mary Baldwin University: Kamryn Brown
NASCAR Technical Institute: Corbin Graham
Old Dominion University: Bronwyn Fenimore, Jacob Schult,
Radford University: Sela Beatty, Mason Bennett, Maddie Chitwood, Colten Cook, Bryson Crawford, Priscilla Davis, Abigail Dillon, Gavin Dorsey, Caleb Drewery, Catherine Harless, Nathan Hayslett, Jocelyn Hunter, Ashlynn Jamison, Hunter Keesee, Morgan Kelly, Daniel Letz, Connor McCarthy, Jacob McKinney, Annabelle Moore, Connor Pero, Cheyenne Pruitt, Jaylen Rosser, Mya Rosser, Delaena Shemoun
Radford University—Carilion: Ashton Burns, Alejandra Hernandez, Kimberlyn Johnson, Ana Nolasco, Nataleigh Witt
Randolph College: Summer Lohrmann
Randolph Macon College: Vivian Hernandez
Roanoke College: Yulissa Bonilla Guacheta, Mia-Eve DeHart, Kaitlyn Ferguson, Sarah Fuchs, Elisha Gayles, Keely Hoal, Trinity Hylton, Elyssa Kitts, Austin Nielsen, Amber Vaughn, Cadence Wilkerson
San Diego State University: Alexa Aquino
Savannah College of Art and Design: Hunter Muddiman
School of Mortuary Science: Jayda Peters
Shenandoah University: Griffin Horacek
Southeastern University: Elsie Kincer
United States Army: Carlee Hutchens, Brysen Lish, Nicholas Sparks
United States Navy: Dyson Spence, Matthew Hoyos
University of Lynchburg: Ciara Mutz
University of Maryland–College Park: Daniel Sarver
University of North Carolina—Wilmington: Madeline Miller
University of the Pacific: Devin Liu
University of Tennessee: Micah Kiker, Verity Watkins
University of Virginia: Haley Day, Emilie McCaskill, Timber Raines
Virginia Commonwealth University: Johnathan Ham, Jackson Huff, Wesley Nance
Virginia Military Institute: Hunter Sipe
Virginia Tech: Jonah Bowser, Isabel Burnett, Gentry Carle, Emma Copening, Thomas Dulak, Jr., Haley Firebaugh, Ethan Hairston, Wills Halliwill, Nicholas Long, Robert Miller, Joshua Roop, Matthew Scavelli, Ashlyn Stover, Hannah Sutton, Charles Trogdon, Jr., Kassidy Wrye
Virginia Western Community College: Alyssa Allen, Grace Altice, Andrew Ballinger, Chayton Behrens, Mackenzie Browne, Bennett Burger, Cortney Carter, Sidney Clemmer, Connor Colgan, Colin Cooper, Treveon Cossaboon, Jerry Cruz, Emily Cummings, Haley Davis, Makayla Entsminger, Josilyn Firebaugh, Reid Galliher, Bryanna Grasmick, Alageon Gravely, Abigail Gunn, Kyle Gwyn, Blake Hagy, Briannah Hall, Issiac Hartsel, Nathan Hendrick, Destiny Hewitt, Nathan Hinkle, Kaiya Hoagland, Kenley Hodges, Sean Hoey, Macy Icard, Charles Johnson, Mackenzie Kelley, Aden Lamay-Lee, William Lucas, Amaris Markham, Jay Marshall, Jayson Marvin, Madison McDaniel, Natalee Mills, Ragan Moody, Carter Moore, Jada Morgan, Turessa Nash, Steven Nguyen, Tori Nininger, Shivani Patel, Dylan Price, Brock Rader, Natalie Schneider, Kendal Seale, Jamie Small, Damien Chaos Smith, Faith Smith, Thoo Lay Soe, Alexzandria Spickard, Khalil Thomas, Lana Turner, Wardha Wajed, Greta Walls, Colin Webb, Kaden West, Christian Wilhelm, Shirldon Winegard III, Claire Wray
West Virginia University: Ema Fay, John Sandzimier
Other graduates include Alexis Anderson, Mattie Andrews, Aiden Arriola, Chancellor Bruner, Brian Cortez-Jimenez, Graham Dooley, Nicholas Flurnoy, Damon Fowler, Cody Hinkley, Melanie McMahon, Austin Palmerio, Dakota Ripley, and Jacob Scruggs.
Senior Sponsor Hannah Blais facilitated the Class of 2022 Graduation Ceremony. The ceremony can be viewed online in its entirety at https://www.rcps.us/graduation.