Edited on June 7th to include the co-valedictorian speech by Aspen Easter --
The Churchill County High School Class of 2020 graduated last week under surreal circumstances, in a most unusual and unique drive-thru ceremony. The school district made the ceremony available to watch live online for those who were unable to attend. The link to the ceremony is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt36vLcjoQs&feature=emb_err_woyt
Beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the 29th, graduates and their families drove a route behind the baseball field to the south end of the football field, where graduates exited the car, crossed the stage, had their name announced, handed a diploma cover, and switched their tassel. Beginning at 5:30 PM, KVLV broadcasted the recorded student "shout-outs" and Valedictorian speeches on the radio. Seniors and their families were creative with their transportation and decorated their cars as well as their caps.
The Valedictorian Ashby Trotter gave her heartfelt and wise message, which is included here:
“Like many people, I’m don’t like hearing my voice recorded, so I’m going to try to record this in one go. Good evening class of 2020! Today is the day we have thought of since freshman year, the day we put on our wizard costumes and weird square hats with cat toys on the end - graduation day. I’m Ashby Trotter and am the valedictorian this year. I want to thank my parents for supporting and motivating me and my sister for being the best friend I could ask for through these years. I thank the CCHS classified staff for maintaining our school, cleaning up after us for four years, and supporting our teachers. I thank the teachers for their dedication to the students. I would like to thank a few teachers in particular. I would like thank to Mrs. Kim Jung and Mrs. Gretchen Felte for the great kickstart to my education. Mr. Keith Lund, thank you for teaching me failure is indeed possible with your APUSH tests. Mr. Steve Johnson, thank you for sparking my interest in chemistry and inspiring me to pursue a career in science I never considered before. Last of all, I thank Quizlet, SparkNotes, and Google for their beautifully designed copy and paste feature.
I am no genius, and despite what my mom says, I am not perfect. I have my moments of overpowering laziness and procrastination. The reason I am giving this speech right now is because I worked to be here. It was a choice, a choice any of us can make. My definition of success was to be valedictorian and get a full-ride scholarship to my dream university; I thought that if I achieved these two things, I would be stress-free and feel successful. Yet, at the end of these four years, I realize I sacrificed relationships because I was too busy to pursue them and it seriously affected my overall high school experience. Now, I would like you to fill in the blank with whatever you pursued the most (the end all be all) like acceptance to a certain college, sports, academics, popularity. Self-assess what you sacrificed for that thing. Was it worth it? In high school, when we fail; consequences are minor. But in the game of life, the consequences of wrong choices we make and the legacy we try to leave are paid with sacrifices. It is up to us to decide what we prioritize. Those who we affect and the lives we change are how we are remembered, not necessarily what we accomplish.
While I sincerely hope you have some great memories from these years, these should not be the best twelve years of your life. That is a pain I would not wish upon any enemy. If mandatory school attendance and ACT testing turn out to be the best years of our lives; surely we have done something wrong. High school does not, by any means, define you or your potential; only the choices you make from now on define you. I want all of you to leave here today and make memories so great that the ones we reminisce about today are a mere introduction into a life of happiness and success. Because that's what life is about, creating memories with the people we love. Now, as we turn our tassels and walk across the stage, I will start to put this day to memory; because days like this are what I want all my memories to be - dreams that I got to fulfill and can reflect on later in life.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who dreamt about walking across the stage in this ridiculous attire; it means a lot to all of us, that’s why we're here. Do not let 2020 define you; live out your dreams and make true relationships because that’s how lasting memories are made. So that one day, when we meet down the road, we’ll have some awesome stories to share. Congratulations class of 2020, I honor you all and good luck, not that any of you need it.”
Co-valedictorian Aspen Easter delivered her speech as well, and is included here:
"Good evening, my name is Aspen Easter. Many of you do not know me, and for those who do, I am terribly sorry, also, please only post the photos of my good side. To those of you who have yet to meet me, I hope to gather your attention for just a few moments. I would like to start this speech with a poem of love by Courtney Peppernell,
'You are a collection of miracles, bound together by sunlight. But you are also much more than that; you are a story, a home, a wolf that howls in the night'
We have always been the generation born to make it through anything. We survived natural disasters, terrorist attacks, ebola, and even 2016. Who could forget our freshman year, deadly clowns, virtual reality, the presidential election, PokemonGo, and Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Academy Award after years of anguish and memes. If we have been able to survive and thrive through these four years, who is to say we cannot survive anything.
These four years have not been easy by any means. Every one of us has had our own battles and struggles. We have all survived, but united we have become unbreakable. I came here four years ago, new to public school and new to all of you, lost, hurting, and scarred. I felt I was drowning in a vast sea of thoughts and emotions. So many of you reached out to make me feel welcomed and a part of the school, and for that, I will always thank you. Through your smiles and kind gestures, I survived the battlefield found in my mind and have reached goals that I had thought to be unattainable. Many of you watched me fall and every single time, you were all there cheering me on to get back up. Because of you, I was able to create new aspirations. All of you have helped me to heal wounds and scars hidden deep inside.
We are a new generation. One filled with hope, passion, and determination to make this world in our vision. Alone many of us could not have made it here, I would not have made it here, yet we have reached the edge of the great unknown together.
Keynote Speaker Glen Plake, a professional skier recorded a message to the graduates that was played on the live radio broadcast during the drive by ceremony. You can hear that brief message here.
Devonte Woodson, a LEAD On volunteer, also gave the graduating class some words of encouragement and inspiration, which can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0cHUNoqGc8&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3HF_ah4bBZy-A0z3cYKnUpbfsuMH_dA46li2c294o3LXMNNnPgK2WwEu0
Many parents and teachers have remarked on this year’s graduation ceremony saying that it was actually very enjoyable and might be a great way to continue what has over the years become a long, drawn-out event to endure. General consensus has been, that in spite of being “one like no other”, the Class of 2020 may have been the most enjoyable graduation ceremony in a long time.
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