With an airline captain's hat on his head and an airplane passing overhead, Principal Harold “Butch” Ingram said the graduates of Glasgow High School are now capable of flying at high levels in even the worst turbulence.
“2021, you are clear for takeoff,” Ingram said Tuesday evening as 180 seniors graduated outside on the school's football field. “The world is yours. You have weathered the storm and reached the correct altitude at this point in your life. Continue to climb higher, remain positive. stay humble. You are now prepared to make a difference in this world.“
He asked graduates to think back to when they were freshmen, when high school felt like a new beginning. He compared the pandemic to an emergency landing during a plane flight, as students are unsure of when they can once again return to in-person classes.
“You are now responsible not only for yourself, but many others as you give back and make the world a better place,” Ingram said.
Hager Qasim encouraged fellow graduates to remain positive while looking toward their support system during hard times.
“We all need to keep in mind that it is okay to say thank you,” said Qasim, senior class director. “It was okay to ask for help when we needed to. Don't ever be embarrassed of who you are.”
Ahkima Yates expressed pride in her classmates' accomplishments and how they balanced school with their personal life even as COVID-19 damaged their motivation.
“We now know how much our lives could change drastically at any moment,” said Yates, also a senior class director. “What's most important is the way that we now know how to adjust to it.”
Ingram also acknowledged the winner of the $500 Rebecca Henderson scholarship, Tasia Jones. The award, to honor the late Henderson, a teacher at Glasgow, was spearheaded by graduate Erin MacInness.
Later, in a speech to her fellow graduates, MacInness thanked her father for supporting her through her high school years.
“I wanted to thank my dad,” MacInness said through tears. “He was there for everything and he got me through everything. He was my heart and soul. I would not be in this position right now without him, without you guys, without the staff, without Ingram, without anyone.”
Salutatorian Jonathan LaRose said perseverance is one of the most important traits someone can have, and this past year shows that the 2021 class should walk away with their diplomas with pride.
Valedictorian Relena Kiser pointed out that many valedictorian speeches turn into thank you letters but said students should thank themselves for the work they did, even if they occasionally turned in a late assignment.
“Never be afraid to make mistakes,” Kiser said. “Never take a failure as a sign that you should give up.”
Graduate Yobani Leon said moving into a virtual environment was challenging, as it was difficult to use new applications like Google Docs and Schoology.
“We all had to adapt along with staff and teachers,” said Leon, who hopes to go to trade school. “Nothing will be the same from now on.”
Graduate Dawud Pennewell preserved through the death of his father in 2020, while also raising his son, on his way to the end of his high school career.
“Everybody has problems,” Pennewell said. “You can’t take that kind of stuff and let it ruin you.”