On May 16, 2022, Dee Harris Field was host to the 114th Commencement Ceremony honoring White County High School graduates.
The most recent class to become official alumni of White County’s only high school, gathered on the football field one last time as the administration, faculty, and staff honored them and presented them with their diplomas, marking the end of a 13-year educational journey and the beginning of the next chapter of their lives.
Salutatorian Bailee Fiste greeted her classmates and told them not to be afraid to be themselves, embrace their differences, and to create their own story when they left White County High School for the final time later that evening.
Valedictorian Jake Officer echoed Fiste’s sentiments as he told his classmates that he knew they had each changed over the four years they had spent at White County High School, and they were no longer living in the shadow of their predecessors but rather were individuals with hopes, dreams, personalities, and promising futures. Officer told them he hoped they would always feel at home in Sparta, but it was time for them to define themselves and live the lives they were meant for.
Before Principal Greg Wilson presented the class to Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger, he read a list of accomplishments the Class of 2022 had achieved. He read everything from award-winning sports seasons to high scoring ACT tests. He listed volunteer hours and technical certifications. He listed scholarships and college plans and military commitments.
When Dronebarger accepted White County High School’s Class of 2022, he told them not to be afraid to make mistakes along the way. He reminded them mistakes are part of the journey and only serve to improve their future, reminding them that Edison didn’t feel that he had failed 100 times, but that he had taken 100 steps in inventing a lightbulb. He told them they, too, would have numerous steps in their futures and encouraged them to embrace each step and live their lives thoroughly.
Before the senior class president officially accepted the diplomas on behalf of the class and before graduating senior Jeremiah Gardenhire led his classmates in one final prayer for safety and blessings, two awards – one to a teacher and one to a student – were given out for the first time.
The first-ever recipient of the Senior Inspiration Award was Keith Brown. The graduating seniors voted Brown as a teacher who had inspired them to do and be more and had encouraged them to reach for their potential throughout their days at White County High School.
Senior Isabella Baker was selected as the first-ever recipient for the Warrior Award, which was given to the graduating senior that faculty had chosen as someone who had embodied the Warrior spirit and strived to achieve greatness, while remaining kind and compassionate.
The White County High School Class of 2022 received a total of $509,454 in scholarship money. That total did not include an additional 153 students who were eligible for Tennessee Promise, the HOPE Scholarship, and had made commitments to the armed forces, all of which will increase the total award monies for the Class of 2022 to over $1 million.
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