By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Neither rain nor shine was going to keep the graduating 2019 class of Tucker County High School from walking across the stage and being handed their hard earned diploma. The week was full of practices, events, and ceremony’s for this outgoing class of TCHS Seniors.
The Tucker County High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) hosted the 2019 Baccalaureate Service at TCHS Auditorium. Senior Class President Riley Evans extended a warm welcome to those in attendance while Corrick Ambrose led The Pledge of Allegiance. Owen Poling offered an opening prayer followed by Samantha Bykofsky informing the accomplishments of the FCA, some of which being Operation Christmas Child, Sledding for Our Savior, and Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners. Around $5,000 has been donated back to the community through their hard work and efforts throughout the school year. Bykofsky introduced Aliyah Plum and Zoie Witt, who sang a rendition of Hallelujah. Ben Callaway introduced the guest speaker of the evening, Tim Britton.
An alumni of Appalachian Bible College, Britton had a message to extend to not only the outgoing seniors, but everyone in the audience. “I believe God gives us all a story,” he explained, as he referenced the Book of Acts and the Apostle Paul’s story. “What we want to do is we want to impact the world,” he continued. Britton shared the story about his parents losing his older sister three years prior to his birth. According to Britton, his father declared he didn’t want any more children after losing a child, however, “My Heavenly Father had another plan,” he smiled. He explained how his Dad wasn’t exactly his “biggest fan” and made it difficult growing up. During his sophomore year of High School, his Mother was diagnosed with cancer with little time remaining. Britton said it was then FCA and Christ came into his life along with supportive teachers, classmates, and friends. He recalled a teammate inviting him to church and then taking him to purchase his first Bible the day after he was saved. “You never know what a kind act may do,” he said as he encouraged the class to partake in them whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Britton shared more details about his story and left the class with a few departing statements. “Class of 2019, God has great plans ahead for you. Remember, you’re never alone, God is right there.” As he closed, he said, “May God bless you, may God bless Tucker County High School, and may God bless America.”
A short break followed with snacks and refreshments offered to the guests by the FCA club. Counselor Anthony McDaniels opened the ceremony followed by TCHS Principal Stephen Cosner recognitions. The 2019 Co-Salutatorian’s are Maya Paul and Owen Poling, with the Co-Valedictorians being Julia Burnside and Christopher Chambers. Cosner announced the top ten of the class of 2019 joining the previous four, which were Corrick Ambrose, Samantha Bykofsky, Benjamin (Ben) Cromer, Wyatt Hall, Inza Pacella, Aliyah Plum. The Senior Awards Ceremony followed where a minimum estimate of almost $1,500,000 was awarded in scholarships. Those scholarships and honors included the following: sixteen scholarships by the Tucker County Community Foundation, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Berea College, HSTA, Mountain Lion Fund, the Murray G. Dearborn scholarship, Good Citizens Award, Parsons Alumni, Former Ruritan Club, Student of the Year, Citizens Bank, George W. Higgs Memorial, Tucker County Rotary, SPARK recognition, Dominion Mt. Storm, Oakland Foundation, Potomac State College, Fairmont State University, Davis and Elkins College, West Virginia University, Glenville State College, Don Knauss Scholarship, Kiwannis, the PROMISE scholarship, and Workplace Competency Credentials. The 2019 Senior Class Officers were President Riley Evans, Vice President McKinley Murphy, Secretary Zoie Nicole (Taylor) Witt, and Treasurer Lauren McCrum. Also being honored as the Student of the Year was Riley Evans.
The Cord Presentation followed recognizing those with high achievements in the following: National Honor Society, AP courses, Health Science, Automotive, Collision Repair Technology, Pro-Start Restaurant, Agribusiness, Carpentry, Project Lead the Way Engineering, Thespians, and Art.
At R.H. Armstrong Memorial Field on Friday evening, even more family and friends filled the stadium seats to watch the long awaited walk across the stages. The class marched across the field and took their seats together for the final time. Shane Humphrey played The National Anthem on bass guitar with Michaela Frame signing. Cosner delivered the opening address with the reading of the book ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Seuss. He then delivered a special message in his own words to the class in his own words.
Class President Riley Evans delivered a welcome and thank you message to the parents and families and a note to her class to always keep hope. Aliyah Plum and Zoie Witt performed ‘I Will Stand by You’.
Co-Valedictorian Julia Burnside was first to deliver her speech, saying “The future isn’t a distant reality anymore, it’ here, it’s right now.” She referenced the Book of John 10:10 and asked her fellow classmates to live life abundantly and closed with a sincere thank you to her family, friends, and teachers.
Christopher Chambers, Co-Valedictorian thanked his mother, father, siblings, and grandfather. He took off all of his honors draped around his neck and stated those achievements are not his, but they belong to those who got him this far. He continued thanking those supporting his endeavor before performing a rendition of ‘I Did It My Way’.
The Salutatorian’s addresses were next beginning with Co-Salutatorian Maya Paul. She extended a heartfelt thank you to those having a major impact on her life and education and told her fellow classmate “accept one another and learn to love despite the flaws,” before wishing them the best. She left her class with three points to remember: live in the present, embrace change, and appreciate the good times always looking for them during the bad.
Co-Salutatorian Owen Poling completed the student addresses stating, “First impressions mean nothing.” He thanked everyone that stood behind him to get him this far, first mentioning his Lord and Savior, his brothers, parents, grandparents, extended family, coaches, teachers, friends, and those who have gone on before him. He referenced several Bible verses relative to the occasion, including Psalm 139:13-14, Matthew 5:14, and Ecclesiastics 3:1-8. He extended a heartfelt thank you to departing teacher and Coach Shane Eakle before closing with a quote from his favorite character, Winnie the Pooh. He said, “If ever there comes a day we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”
This brought the ceremony into the reading of the names performed by Shane Eakle and James Marple. The clouds were rolling in quickly and everyone was getting anxious to beat the storm. After just a few names were called, the announcing system malfunctioned and the microphone was inoperable. Fortunately, this was only a brief delay and the ceremony continued. As the next row made their way stage side, the wind picked up, clouds became dark, and power was again lost to the microphones. As they worked quickly to restore sound, the sky opened up and the rain came down full force.
In alphabetical order, here are the 2019 Tucker County High School Mountain Lion graduates. Corrick Ambrose, John Anderson, Rachel Arbogast, Dylan Arman, Mark Barnes, Emily Bennett, Elizabeth (Liz) Buchanan, Julia Burnside, Samantha Bykofsky, Benjamin (Ben) Callaway, Seth Cangley, Christopher Chambers, Hannah Christian, Austin Clark, Lauren Cockerham, Tyler (Velez) Cooper, Benjamin (Ben) Cromer, Alec Cummings, Anna DiBacco, Jaycee Dillsworth, Sara Dumire, Braxton Dunn, Lalah Ends, Riley Evans, Michaela Frame, Kenzie Freeman, Zachary Frymyer, Byron Gidley, Wyatt Hall, Heather Howell, Shane Humphrey, Kelcee James, Cassandra (Cassie) Jennings, Mason Johnson, Megan Jones, Kaitlyn (Katie) Keplinger, Isaac Knotts, Raheim Lamb, Austin Lambert, Kaiden Lawson, Edward Lewandowski III, Lauren McCrum, Tyler Molone, Andrew (Hatley) Moore, McKinley Murphy, Zane Myers, Shylynn Nestor, Inza Pacella, Michael Parks, Maya Paul, Gariet Pennington, Aliyah Plum, Aslynn Poling, Owen Poling, Amber Price, Christian Purnell, Adam Putlovis, Cole Rapp, Dominick Rhoades, Jonathan (Jon) Rhodes, William Shockley, Abigail Simmons, Kaleb Snider, Easton Snyder, Jeffrey Snyder, Mariah Tennant, Cameron Wamsley, and Zoie (Taylor) Witt.
Once the diploma’s were all in their new owner’s hands, Superintendent Alicia Lambert had the honor of instructing her first graduating class as superintendent to turn their tassel’s to become alumni. Celebration commenced with the tossing of the caps along with silly string, hugs, laughter, and tears.