The 2021 graduating class of West Rusk High School donned their caps and gowns to collect their diplomas at Bruce Bradshaw Stadium on Friday evening.

The ceremony marked the completion of more than a decade of effort and hard work, made even more challenging by the unprecedented events of 2020.

Salutatorian Mikenzie Dean addressed her fellow classmates, now graduates, congratulating them on their hard work and encouraging them to overlook the mistakes of the past and instead embrace opportunities of the future.

“That’s what I love most about graduating,” she said.

“We’re getting to let go of our mistakes and failures, forgive ourselves and begin a new part of our lives with the lessons we learned here. As C.S. Lewis once said, ‘There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.’ Graduating Class of 2021, my fellow classmates, I want to remind you all that even though this is the end of our high school years together, this is only the beginning of the rest of our lives.”

Valedictorian Meghan Jennings also thanked and congratulated her classmates, West Rusk ISD faculty and staff and encouraged her fellow graduates to follow their hearts to their own definition of success in the future.

“I hope that you all find your success in life, that you don’t listen to what society tries to define success as and you find it for yourself,” she said.

“For I believe success can be whatever you want it to be. So whatever it may be after tonight, whether it’s furthering your education or joining the military or entering the workforce, I truly hope that you all find that path to your goals in life and follow it with passion and courage. Find your own image of what it means to be successful and make yourself proud.”

Pledges at the ceremony were led by David Mata, the invocation was given by Kaylee Driver and Kristen Purtle gave the benediction.

Honor graduates for the Class of 2021 are Braiden Brian, Tayler Davis, Mikenzie Dean, Kaylee Driver, Auslyn Huff, Meghan Jennings, Morgan Jennings, Jazmin Jimenez, Rut Jose, Kaelyn King, Samantha Malone, David Mata, Kristen Purtle, Diego Rodriguez, Christopher Stewart, Angel Webb and Caitlin Wood.

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