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OHS Class of 2021: ‘All of us have persevered’

By Neely Mullen

The Oxford High School Class of 2021 gathered with family, friends, teachers and administrators alike at the Ole Miss Pavilion Friday night to celebrate their graduation, reflecting on a legacy of academic excellence, athletic achievement and adaptability in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are a class who has achieved so many things throughout our time in the Oxford School District,” Student Body President Caroline McCready said in her address to the graduating class. “The class of 2021 has seven National Merit finalists, an average GPA of 3.31, 52 members graduating with between a 3.6 and 3.99 GPA and 79 members graduating with a 4.0 GPA.”

Aside from these academic achievements, the class also boasted record-breaking athletic seasons, with several students continuing their careers at the collegiate level.

However, McCready, along with other student speakers, said what has defined the legacy of the class of 2021 is their strength and perseverance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All 267 of us have persevered,” McCready said. “We will face challenges in our lives. We will be faced with adversity. But hopefully, we will always be able to look back at these last to years at Oxford High School and take confidence from the indisputable knowledge that we have faced adversity before.”

Salutatorian Kareem Elgohry echoed this sentiment, congratulating the class on their adaptability and flexibility during their high school careers, and throughout the pandemic.

“I am confident in saying that we are one of the most adaptable classes to I’ve ever set foot in Oxford High School,” he said. “Each and every one of us have literally had to be in order to make it to this stage. Because no matter what anybody says, high school is hard.”

The students also encouraged their classmates to look toward the future, with valedictorian Edmund Doerksen pushing his fellow graduates to appreciate the strength found in diversity.

“We are part of a nationwide group of graduating Americans that is more diverse than any that has come before,” he said. “This means that wherever each of us may go, we will find peers who identify with every race, creed and color imaginable. In many cases, we will be part of a diverse group that has been brought together all at once in a new setting. I’m looking forward to the incredible opportunity to meet and interact with people who have radically different sensitivities, characteristics, tendencies and goals. Surrounding oneself with an eclectic array of people opens possibilities for new experiences, and provides a chance to grow through introduction to differing ideas.”

Ellis Farese, who served as senior class president, echoed Doerksen’s sentiment, and encouraged her classmates to find their voices as they enter into their adult lives.

“I hope each of you decides to stand up against injustice, hatred and discrimination of all forms in our nation and our world,” she said. “I hope that our classmates inspire you like they do me. You all inspire me to be the kindest, most dedicated and authentic version of myself and I thank you for that.”