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Bassett, Magna Vista seniors find hope in virtual graduation ceremonies
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Bassett, Magna Vista seniors find hope in virtual graduation ceremonies

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Both Bassett and Magna Vista High Schools plan to have graduation ceremonies for this year’s senior class, but while that isn’t a possibility now, the schools did the next best thing, posting virtual ceremony videos on Facebook and YouTube this weekend.

Magna Vista’s graduation video was posted on Friday night, when the school’s graduation ceremony was originally scheduled before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The Warriors video opened with senior class president Caleb Brannock giving a speech from the school’s hallway.

“The way we are finishing high school is not normal, but our class isn’t like the classes that have come before us or the ones that will follow us,” Brannock said. “The class of 2020 is full of grit and determination. I firmly believe that every single one of us is going to make an impact on our community.”

Bassett seniors Cierra Gilbert and Ashley Minnick echoed similarly hopeful sentiments in their speeches. The BHS video was posted online on Saturday morning during the Bengals’ originally scheduled graduation time.

“We, the class of 2020, have been through many trials and challenges,” Gilbert said. “We entered this world during the tragedy of 9/11 and are now graduating during this global pandemic. Despite these disasters, I can say the class of 2020 has handled every setback, tribulation and devastation with grace.”

Henry County Schools Superintendent Sandy Strayer offered her thanks to both Magna Vista and Bassett’s graduates for their flexibility, patience, and kindness during the last two months. She stressed that the physical restrictions placed upon this year’s seniors have not diminished their creativity or spirit.

“You are strong and it is my sincere hope that you will take this event and every other event that happens in your life and you will look for the positives and you will always use it for motivation to make a difference in our world,” Strayer said.

Bassett Principal Tiffiny Gravely offered words of wisdom to the Bengals’ seniors.

“To the class of 2020 — you made it. You made it in the most nontraditional and unconventional manner imaginable, but you made it,” Gravely said. “COVID-19 may have taken some experiences away from you and put a damper on the final moments of your high school career, but please keep in mind that not even a global pandemic can take away the greatest gift of learning.”

Both videos ended with Gravely and Magna Vista Principal Charles Byrd declaring the seniors graduates of the school, with select graduates seen throwing their caps in the air.

Both high schools plan to have traditional graduation ceremonies this summer, “and I can’t wait for that day,” Strayer said.

For now, the seniors are looking to the future as they enjoy the present.

“As humans it is natural for us to get stuck in our past or to worry too much about our futures. What we never do is appreciate the present,” Minnick said. “The present is our responsibility. It is our responsibility to live in the moment. I know it is hard to be excited about the moment we are in but I promise there is still good here. We have lost so many wonderful experiences of our senior year, but here we are.”

Bassett sends seniors off with gifts

Bassett celebrated the school’s class of 2020 with an “Adopt-a-Senior” project.

The adoption process started with BHS faculty and BHS feeder school staff volunteering to adopt one of the school’s seniors, with churches, businesses and community members joining as volunteers.

Seniors were surprised with gifts at their homes on Friday with BHS staff members delivering each one.

“The outpouring of support from the community was overwhelming,” Gravely said. “We were overjoyed for how staff members and the community came together to get gifts for every BHS senior.”

PCHS and Carlisle planning ceremonies on later dates

Both Patrick County High School and Carlisle School plan to hold in-person graduation ceremonies later this summer, representatives of the schools said in emails this week.

PCHS Principal Trey Cox said the school plans on scheduling the event “as soon as we are released to Phase II” of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan.

Jennifer Doss, resource development and marketing director at Carlisle, also said the school plans on having a traditional closing ceremony and commencement “when it is deemed safe to do so.” Doss also said the school is making a video honoring the seniors that will be shared online in the coming days, and the school will hold its annual senior picnic following a rehearsal for the closing ceremony and commencement.

Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.

Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.

Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.

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