Troy Adams stood first in the line of Russellville High School students placed alphabetically by last name in a hall at RHS and looked forward with excitement to receiving his high school diploma Saturday.
“I’m ready,” he said of graduating. “It’ll be a fun experience.”
As his honor cords hung over his black robe, Troy reminisced about his school days.
He will miss “the atmosphere” of RHS, with its “small school” feeling, he said.
Troy, like several of his classmates, attended Kindergarten through 12th grade in Russellville City Schools. He has been influenced to pursue a double major in marketing and management at Murray State University by studying marketing under Paulette Smith at RHS.
Each fellow senior of Troy’s had a mind racing with his or her own set of memories and plans Saturday, when Troy went on to be named class salutatorian, Chelsea Jenkins graduated third in her class, and Kesi Neblett, who also recently matriculated through Newsweek’s top-ranked public high school, Gatton Academy in Bowling Green, and Rebecca Orndorff were named co-valedictorians.
“The future’s been handed to us,” Rebecca, who will attend Western Kentucky University this fall, said to her 51 fellow graduates in her valedictory address. “It’s up to us to make the most of it.”
Kesi urged her classmates similarly and asked them to “continue to call out” complacency, injustice and other problems, as they have compelled each other to do throughout childhood.
Kesi’s hard work until this point has earned her a fall spot at prestigious Columbia University, where she will major in civil engineering and play volleyball.
She’s not the only Class of 2013 member to be accepted to one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning.
Gen. Charles B. Skaggs, U.S. Army retired, and a United States Military Academy at West Point alumnus, was on hand at graduation to present Philip Crawford with a very important piece of documentation regarding his future.
“On behalf of the president of the United States, it gives me great pleasure to present this certificate of appointment to Philip Crawford for the West Point class of 2017,” Skaggs said, prompting the crowd in the gym to break into a standing ovation.
Cheers for various reasons were in abundant supply Saturday.
Russellville Police Department Det. Kenneth Edmonds’ hip-hop infused commencement address urging graduates to pursue lives of respect, hard work, personal education and self-confidence was interrupted several times by applause.
“The most important thing in life is to live with integrity… to be an honest and compassionate person…,” he said.
The sentiment was echoed in School Board Chairman James Milam’s reading of Rudyard Kipling’s “If:”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son
Katie Boyd, who was at RHS to support graduate Alexis Spencer, the niece she helped raise, was excited Alexis would soon be running life’s race as an adult with unlimited prospects before her.
“I thank the Lord to be so good and kind and lead us to this day,” she said. “We’re so happy.”
Boyd was happy because she knows some never get the chance to enter the phase of life Alexis is about to embrace. Boyd’s son, Kendale Boyd, passed away from illness just days before he was to graduate from RHS in 1998, she said.
Boyd is now encouraging Alexis, who will attend WKU in the fall, to keep her focus on the important things in life.
“I want her to keep the Lord first, and then everything else will be added,” she said. “He will add everything.”
Alexis, sitting quietly on the steps in a hall at RHS while her classmates hustled and bustled around her in the minutes before graduation, soaked in her last moments at her high school.
“I’m starting a new chapter,” she said. “I’m gonna miss it, though.”
Below are the students and the accompanying scholarships and awards as they were read at Saturday’s graduation:
• Troy Adams: Drive the Dream, Masonic Lodge Scholarship and Murray State University Academic Achievement Scholarship
• Philecia Clemons: DAR Good Citizen
• Kristen Coursey: Boardwalk Pipeline, East Logan Water, Logan Memorial Healthcare and Sally Flowers Moody
• Philip Crawford: West Point — Class of 2017, Army ROTC to UK or WKU and UK Presidential
• Janet Dulworth: Drive the Dream
• Bryce Duncan: Mary Hope Henry Music Scholarship, Murray State University Music Scholarship, Murray State University Racer Band Leadership and Housing Scholarship and Mills Academic Scholarship
• Eli Higginbotham: Mary Hope Henry Music Scholarship
• Chelsea Jenkins: Diana Hutchings Evans Glasgow Scholarship, Republican Women’s Scholarship, Logan Telephone Coop, We Can Gear Up Scholarship
• Leslie Klein: Oddvar Berg Scholarship
• Zach Lee: Lindsey Wilson
• Jasmine McGaugh: Western Kentucky University E.A. Diddle Scholarship
• Carlie Morphew: Panther Spirit Award — RHS Alumni Association and Academic Scholarship Campbellsville University
• Kesi Neblett: Democratic Women’s Club, FOP Scholarship, Joseph G. Hardy Memorial Scholarship, Kiwanis, NAACP, Western Kentucky University – Hallmark Tuition – first year
• Kathleen Noe: Kelly Russell Award, Athletic Scholarship Mid-Continent Volleyball Scholarship
• Rebecca Orndorff: deGraffenried Award, Sally Flowers Moody, Western Kentucky University Spirit Makes the Master Scholarship and Logan Telephone Coop (In addition, Rebecca received the Kentucky Department of Education’s Commonwealth Diploma, given in recognition of her successful completion of four Advanced Placement courses and three Advanced Placement exams.)
• Amber Sydnor: Academic/Athletic Scholarship Campbellsville University
• Anthony Tisdale: Kelly Russell Award
• Luke Whittaker: Fellowship of Christian Athletes Scholarship
— In addition to Chelsea, Troy, Kesi and Rebecca, the following students, listed alphabetically, complete the list of the top ten students in their graduating class: John Luke Boisseau, Kristen Danielle Coursey, Philip Churchill Crawford, David Tyler Hall, Ethan Loyd Houchens and Ciyanne Smith.