Bears' Class of 2024 numbers 54 at Spring Hill graduation Monday night
The Spring Hill Class of 2024, 53 strong, gathered in Hempstead Hall Auditorium Monday night evening before a packed house that often clapped and cheered as blue-gowned students walked across the stage, accepted their diplomas and became graduates. 

After the graduates-to-be marched to their places on stage right, they remained standing as Jerita Wylie sang a powerful National Anthem to usher in the ceremony that the audience applauded. The invocation was said by Highest Honor graduate Andrew Wylie. 

Ronald Smead, principal of Spring Hill High came to the podium then to welcome all in attendance and make appropriate remarks. “These 53 seniors have been looking forward to this moment in their lives for quite some time. The time is now, and this is your night to shine. We welcome everyone to join in the celebration with this class for the ending of this chapter in their lives. And for the start of the new beginnings,” he said. 

Next College and Career Counselor Presley Capps outlined the success of the seniors in attaining scholarship funds to colleges and other programs. “With a total of $1,373,150 in scholarships, you have proven that hard work, determination and passion can indeed open doors to endless opportunities. As you embark on this new chapter of your journey, where you continue to strive for greatness, chase your dreams with conviction, and always remember the profound impact you've made on our hearts and in the world. Congratulations, class of 2020 for the future belongs to you,” she said. 

Levin McGuire, Highest Honor Graduate, in his Salutatory Address thanked God and expressed gratitude to teachers, family and friends for their help in bringing the class to this point. He then looked back at times the class shared. “We’ve spent many nights at Waffle House after a game, at the lake with friends, winning a conference championship in the ninth grade, spending the night and being soaked at the state championship football game. I’ve enjoyed the time I got to spend you over the last few years.” 

He also passed on some of the advice he has heard. “First, be a kid. Yes, you are eighteen and might think you are grown, but you really aren’t. Enjoy these years and don’t rush life because one day we will be sitting in the audience watching on own children graduate. Second, don’t limit yourself in what you can achieve. Don’t settle for a job just because it’s safe. Don’t settle because you are afraid of rejection. Don’t worry about failure. With failure comes growth. Lastly, life is way too short to hold grudges. Because that reason you are angry won’t matter to you years later.” McGuire closed by challenging his classmates to see graduation as the beginning of “something very special.” 

Next came the class address, given by Valedictorian and Highest Honors Graduate Jakob Perry, who began by acknowledging the class’ emotions during the occasion. “On one hand, there's an overwhelming sense of achievement and pride. On the other hand, there's a tinge of sadness as we bid farewell to the school that will always hold a special place in our hearts,” he said. 

Perry described coming to Spring Hill as a new student and discovering what kind of place he found himself in and how he could make a contribution. “When I arrived here a few years ago, I was a newcomer, an outsider trying to find my place in a sea of faces I did not know. However, it didn't take long for me to realize that this was more than just a places to get an education, it would become a place of belonging and cherished members. 

“One of the most significant experiences I had during my time at Spring Hill was playing basketball. The basketball court became my sanctuary, a place where I could release the pressure of academics. The camaraderie and team spirit I soaked in on that court are memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The victories and even the losses helped shape who I am today. I'm grateful for the lessons I learned about discipline, perseverance, hard work and the power of teamwork,” Perry said. 

Thanking his parents and the teachers he encountered at Spring Hill High, Perry told his classmates “thank you for the memories we have made and the bonds we have formed. Every step in the unknown future, let us carry us with the lessons we have learned, the friendships we have cultivated, and the determination to pursue our dreams. May we never forget the time we spent in Spring Hill, for it has been a pivotal chapter in our lives. With that, thank you and congratulations to all my fellow classmates in the class of 2024. We made it.” 

The presentation of roses to parents, faculty and other supporters followed as slides were projected on the screen of childhood pictures of each member of the graduating class along with scholarship totals and plans for what each would be doing in the near future.  

The presentation of diplomas was made by Superintendent Jeffrey Steed and by members of the Spring Hill Board of Directors. Each graduate collected their diploma and then posed briefly at stage right for photos. 

For the conferring of diplomas, Smead returned to the podium to do the honors, pronouncing the students now to be graduates and then instructing them to move their tassels in commemoration. Then the hats were tossed, the benediction said by Highest Honor Graduate Jack Flowers and, to a reprise of “Pomp and Circumstance,” the graduates marched off stage.