Alba-Golden High School

Class of 2020 graduation


“I am a big believer in the prestige of this ceremony,” shared Alba-Golden principal Michael Mize, from a stage in the middle of Alba-Golden stadium Thursday evening. “It may be a heat index of 102, it may be miserable for us right now standing out here, but listen, the prestige of this ceremony is not about us, the prestige of this ceremony is about these graduates.” The ceremony to follow honored them, which was not always a certainty this spring.

Academic adviser Amanda Galyean said of salutatorian Jacob Dailey, “In my ten years of education, I have rarely seen a student, let alone a male student, who has been so respectful and so determined. Any time I walked through the library, he was in there studying or he was helping someone else, and you don’t find that in every student.”

Dailey reflected on the path to this point. “Ever since my first day of elementary school here at Alba-Golden, I have dreamed of the day I would graduate with all my friends. Looking back now at all the memories I’ve made over the past 14 years I’ve been here, I’m shocked at how fast the time has flown.

“I can still remember the talk I had with my dad at the beginning of my eighth grade year, when I took my first high school class. He said, ‘Son, this is where it all starts. This is when you will face countless trials and test, and what matters is how you approach them and how you overcome them.’ I’m realizing now he couldn’t have been more right.

“This year alone I have faced countless trials, whether that be in sports or academics. Don’t get me wrong, I did fail, but I learned from those failures and it made me stronger.”

Dailey also said a special thank you to Coaches Webster and Wells, “for teaching me everything they knew. These two coaches have impacted my life in ways they may never realize, and helped make me into the person I am today.”

Valedictorian Ann Marie Pendergrass continued the expressions of gratitude thanking several teachers who helped her throughout high school and reminded her of her self-worth.

“Thank you Ms. Cockrum for always loving, sharing a laugh, and being there for our class.

“Thank you Ms. Haley for reminding me I am only a high-schooler, and it’s OK to be overwhelmed and tired.

“Thank you Ms. Bryant for the countless hours you spent talking to me about my own problems and helping me through them.

“Most importantly, thank you to Ms. Peel for teaching me that being extra is definitely the way to live life.”

Pendergrass admitted her speech was written last minute because she’d been living life to the fullest. It captured the feeling of the time well.

She summarized, “2020 has been the weirdest year of my life. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if aliens invaded Earth in July.

“Corona took a lot of my last events from me. But it also gave me time. It gave me time to go see my friends, time to spend with my family, and time to work on myself.

“I’m happy that our senior year was cut short because instead of being stressed in the classroom, I was riding in my friend’s new Jeep, windows down, music blaring, and enjoying life; instead of going to lunch for 30 minutes, I ate home-cooked meals with my grandparents and loved every second of it.

“The thing is, yes 2020 has been a crazy year, and that’s probably an understatement, but the way you approach a situation in life determines your happiness.”

Later, Galyean would say, “High school’s not easy. The hardest part’s coming.” If Pendergrass’ words are any indication, it seems the top grad already has a difficult part of life’s puzzle figured out.

Of Pendergrass, Galyean shared, “I knew she could sing, and I knew that she had amazing talent athletically but I did not know how academically gifted she was. She is a goal-setter and a goal getter.”

Galyean said Pendergrass and Dailey are outstanding “not only because of their GPAs, but because of what they contributed to the legacy here at Alba-Golden High School.”

“Both Ann Marie and Jacob are leaving a hole here in Alba-Golden and their leadership will be greatly missed.”

Savannah Edwards, Bralee Littlejohn and Christiana Roberts gave the class history.

Galyean recognized graduates who will be serving in the armed forces. Blake Douglas will join the Marines, Jessica Collier joins the Army National Guard, and enlisting in the Air Force are Mason Fitzgerald, Chase Houtz, Jayden Letsh and Zachary Kellis.

Mize referenced Proverbs 22:1 which reads, “A good name is more desirable than great riches, and loving favor is better than silver and gold.”

He continued, “We believe that every graduate and their family deserves to hear their name called tonight for this great accomplishment. This service tonight is not about air horns; this service tonight is not about beach balls; this service tonight is about our graduates. And for all that they’ve been through, tonight we need to give them the best that we have.” It was evident through words and deeds that many in the school and community surrounding the Alba-Golden class of 2020 have succeeded in doing just that.