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LHS class of 2021 marks graduation, close of challenging school year

The LaGrange High School class of 2021 walked onto the Callaway Stadium grounds Saturday morning not only to bask in beautiful sunshine but to celebrate that they had successfully dodged a year of “curveballs, endless challenges and days filled with self-doubt.”

These were words Ella Eiland, LaGrange High’s senior class president, used in her speech at the beginning of the reception. The senior class president also reminded her fellow classmates to take pride in their accomplishments and to be ready for the future ahead.

“Tomorrow starts a new chapter, one that will be different to each of us,” Eiland said. “However, no matter how scary that journey might be, your Grange family is never that far.”

Other speakers like Superintendent Brian Shumate and STAR student Tristian Ziegler reminded the audience of the hurdles COVID caused for students.

“COVID was not unexpected coming into this year, but none of us thought it was going to last this long or hit this hard,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler went on to encourage students to celebrate what they got out of this year instead: an exceptional year in football, a pep rally and even prom and senior field day.

“It was one heck of a year, but we made it through, class of 2021,” he said. “As we move on with our lives, don’t dwell on the past and don’t look too far ahead in the future. Today is today and it’s the only today you’re going to get.”

Before handing out diplomas to graduates, LaGrange High School Principal Alton White thanked teachers for returning to classrooms and for continuing their hard work.

Under the circumstances, LaGrange High had as close to a normal year as possible, White pointed out, and graduates were able to focus on their goals despite the distractions.

White jokingly stated that the 2021 class broke a record by being the only class in the school’s history that was quarantined 204 times for 2,037 days, but that being before a full audience was still a celebration.

He ended his speech with one last word of advice to the class.

“In the end, we will all be defined by one sentence and the things you do every day of your life will define that sentence,” he said. “Every day of your life people are formulating their sentence about you no matter what category of their life it may be. Over the last four years, you have started your sentence … if you want a defining sentence that’s going to matter to you one day then start living that sentence today.”