368 GRADUATE FROM TUPELO HIGH
Number of graduates: 368
Balfour Award: Brandon Ashcraft
Valedictorian: Jacob Edwin Wylie
Salutatorian: Brandon Ashcraft
STAR Student: Andrew O'Dell
A record 17 Tupelo High seniors graduated with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages. These students are:
Alison Elizabeth Dickey
Jacob Edwin Wylie
By Monique Harrison
For the superstitious, 13 is an unlucky number.
But Tupelo High School graduating senior and keynote speaker Rocky Pizza sees the number 13 in a far more positive light.
"Our lives are like chapters in a novel," Pizza told 368 graduates, their family and friends, who were gathered at the Tupelo Coliseum Thursday night for commencement exercises. "As we graduate from Tupelo High School, we see the end of Chapter 12. Chapter 13 is yet to be written.
"What can we expect? The chapter means different things to all of us. For some, it means the pursuit of a college education. For some, it means the armed services. And others among us will move directly into the work force. But whatever we do, we should strive to excel."
Pizza, who is both an academic and athletic standout, encouraged his classmates to prepare themselves for Chapter 13 in the book of life.
"We have to get our priorities in order ... it means mom won't be around, telling us to get up. We won't have curfews ... and most importantly, there will be few second chances."
Pizza encouraged students to seize every opportunity that came their way, having confidence in themselves through it all.
"Graduating symbolizes our readiness for this new world," he said. "You can accomplish anything. You are in charge of your life."
Interim Principal Dr. Sue Shaw Smith praised the class for their accomplishments during their four years at the school.
"This class has an outstanding record of success, both in the area of academics and extracurricular activities," Smith told the class, which is the first to attend all four years of high school at the Cliff Gookin Boulevard campus. "I applaud you for all you have accomplished. I challenge you to continue to dream your dreams, to believe in yourself and to work to make those dreams real. Accept any obstacle that comes your way as something you can use as a stepping stone of opportunity."
Camera-wielding, camcorder-toting parents abounded at the ceremony.
Several parents said the emotions they felt as their children walked across the stage were bittersweet.
"There are mixed emotions," said Sharon Fooshee, as she watched daughter Amy Davis waiting to receive her diploma. "I get very emotional to see these students that I've watched mature into adults from those kindergarten days."