Families and seniors donned masks as they entered the soccer field. Seats were situated so families sat safely apart, and temperatures were in the 80s — but the spirit of the day was undaunted.
“In deciding to do this, we got some pushback, but I’m glad we did it” Donald E. Snider Jr., CCS Head of School, told families.
“I was so proud of our entire graduating seniors,” said Stephanie Mason, CCS director of marketing who filmed a live feed of the event for parents.
She added the school’s community had shown support of the students, starting with visiting them at their homes to the commencement exercise itself.
“As you can tell, this graduation is, indeed, very different from what we are used to,” valedictorian Nathan Armour said. “It brings many firsts for our school: Our first outside ceremony, our first live stream ceremony and our first masked ceremony.
“Our world wasn’t necessarily turned upside-down, but it was, at least, turned sideways,” Armour added. “I want us all to realize how fleeting time is, how quickly our plans for the future can change.
“We must take advantage of every day that we have and every moment that the Lord has given us. We just don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so every morning, when we wake up, we should praise God and approach that day with an energy and determination that is greater than yesterday’s.”
Quoting the Apostle Peter from the New Testament, Armour said, “What Peter is telling us is we should accept all trials with joy and praise, or in other words, turn that frown upside down.”
Along with Armour, Sierra Spalding ranked as salutatorian.
“What a blessing,” State Rep. Jason Zachary (R-District 14) said in his invocation. “You have taken them on a journey no other class in the history of our country has gone through, Lord … and they’ll be better for it ... .”
Whatever challenges lay before them, Zachary said they would pale in comparison to “what they’ve gone through at such a young age.”
The Rev. Dr. John Mark Harrison, senior pastor of First Baptist Concord, challenged all the graduates to “walk worthy of the calling of Christ.”
Before seniors walked across the stage, they were acknowledged for their accomplishments — $3.2 million in scholarships going to this class.
Retiring teacher Jim Akins was praised for 50 years in education, 17 of which were at CCS — the rest in Loudon County Schools.