A little rain couldn’t stop the Owensboro High School Class of 2021 from graduating, as nearly 300 students accepted their diplomas Tuesday at Rash Stadium.
The evening was filled with encouragement from Owensboro Public Schools staff and excitement from parents and loved ones watching from the stands. As explained by those who spoke during the ceremony, the OHS Class of 2021 had overcome more than its fair share of obstacles on their path to graduation, and that adversity was a mainstay during Tuesday’s ceremony.
While Student Council President Addison Callis spent much of her speech reminiscing about the past 13 years at OPS, she took some time to reflect on the tumultuous senior year her class had faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even though we didn’t get the senior year we deserved, we managed to thrive,” she said. “I ask that you remember that you always have a home at OHS, because once you’re a Red Devil, you’re always a Red Devil.”
OHS Principal John DeLacey – who is transitioning into a new role as the district’s director of transportation, health, and safety – said the OHS Class of 2021 had collectively been awarded more than $6 million in scholarship opportunities.
“We’re extremely proud of this class,” he said.
DeLacey also mentioned that selecting this year’s honor graduate had been difficult, as there were so many worthy candidates among the 2021 class.
Logan Palmer, who was recognized for receiving the honor, had exemplified the academic excellence, leadership and compassion to become the Class of 2021 Honor Graduate, DeLacey said.
OHS Assistant Principal Kenneth “K.O.” Lewis recognized Tammie Roberts for being selected Teacher of the Year by the faculty and staff. He then recognized the late Stephen Schwartz as the student-selected Teacher of the Year.
Schwartz, who passed away in September, received a standing ovation from the 2021 class, and Lewis described the educator as someone who encouraged students to thrive as members of society. Lewis said he was someone who appreciated working at OHS because of its “diverse population and how kids embraced tolerance of others.”
“As you can see, he will be missed,” Lewis said.
OPS Superintendent Matthew Constant used a quote from Christopher Robin — of the Winnie the Pooh series — to stage his speech, encouraging students to use the hardships they’d faced over the last year to become stronger.
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” Constant said. “OHS graduates, this past school year has been one where the waves of the world have tried to make us think the opposite [of those words].”
However, the Class of 2021 had faced numerous challenges “head-on,” Constant said, “and you’re leaving OHS braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
As for the future, Constant challenged the graduates to not settle for normal.
“I’m hoping to see you take the adversity you’ve walked through this year and turn it into strength,” he said.