PCHS Class of 2019 encouraged to work hard, achieve success, but never ‘forget your roots’

Pierce County High School’s Class of 2019 received diplomas at Friday’s commencement in the swelter of an early season heat wave at Bear Stadium.

Students reflected on their school years and were encouraged to make the most of the future. A capacity crowd packed the stadium to cheer on the 235 graduates. Every available seat in the stadium and every parking spot on campus and at the middle school was filled for the ceremony. Shuttle buses transported guests the half-mile from the middle school to the high school.

Valedictorian Michaela McSwain encouraged her classmates to “Chase your dreams, but don’t forget your roots.”

McSwain recounted memories with the class of 2019.

“We’ve had our ups and downs, our successes and failures, our triumphs and trials. but if you look hard, and sometimes you have to look really hard, you’ll find that you unearthed some extremely valuable life lessons along the way,” she said.

McSwain noted the class of 2019 won six state championships, many region and area championships, had a nationally ranked audio-visual program and a record breaking football season.

Quoting James 1:2-3, she told her classmates they had lived the truth of the verse.

“We made it through those ups and downs, those successes and failures, and those triumphs and trials. She encouraged her classmates to become the person God created you to be. Congrats guys, we made it”

Salutatorian Collin Hendley encouraged his classmates to think about “the village that has raised them”.

Hendley asked his fellow graduates to go back to childhood.

“...I want you all to think back to when you were a little kid playing in your room. With a little imagination, you had the power to become anybody that you wanted to be. A pair of socks and a tile kitchen floor deemed some of us figure skaters, guitar hero made us members of a famous band and our easy bake ovens and Kelly Jacobs’ class made us culinary masterminds Quoting Psychologist Carl Jung, Hendley asked ‘What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes?’ Herein lies the key to your earthy pursuits. Do something that you love to do --  something that makes you excited.”

Hendley recalled that this year’s class is the first to have attended the inaugural year at Midway Elementary and saw the rebirth of school spirit with the excitement of state and region championships.

Recounting a trip to New York City for a series of collegiate theatre auditions, Hendley recalls meeting with a panel of judges on the 16th floor of a skyscaper staring down into a busy midtown Manhattan and being asked what made him “so special.”

Hendley said he thought of his hometown.

The blaring Friday Night Lights. The roaring, four wheel drive, dirt road adventures. The sense of community unlike any other place to which he had travelled.

“I quickly organized these thoughts into words and began to share them with the panel. ‘Do you know what it’s like for your entire community, one big family to gather in a stadium. Together. Week in and week out? Can you imagine having nothing to do for entertainment except play hide and seek, barefoot, in the middle of a blueberry field? That makes for quite an interesting person.”

Hendley pointed out that sense of community, that sense of having people love and encourage each classmember makes up “the village.’

“And that has made all the difference,” he said.

Senior Class Officer Chandler Watson gave the inspiration for the class encouraging his classmates to not be afraid to fail, because ultimately that teaches how to succeed.

Senior Class Officer Joseph Gregory Benfield led the pledge to the flag.

Senior class officer Dalton Malone welcomed the crowd and introduced the Class of 2018. Kearington Moore gave a special recognition, that included a thank you for the hand-held fans provided by Hart Funeral Home.

A senior ensemble led graduates in the class song, “I’ll Always Remember You” as well a rendition of Trace Adkins’ song “You’re Gonna Miss This” in a dedication to parents. The ensemble included: Collin Hendley, Samantha Whitman, Emily Davis, Morgan Johnson, Marissa Lee, Madison Stewart, Charlie Ciarletta, Holly Sweat, Arlette Gonzalez, Alexia Eblin, Makayla Copeland, Courtney Johnson, Bailey Peacock, Shelly Rowe and Camden Jewell.

Senior class advisors Robbie Spires and John DuPont presented the Class of 2019. Superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith and Principal Dara Bennett presented diplomas. All five members of the board of education formed a receiving line at the end of the platform to congratulate graduates as they came off the stage.

Senior class officer Ben Baker offered the benediction.


Honor Graduates

Mary Michaela McSwain, Collin Russell Hendley, Julienne Carmen Katheryn Myrick, Cason Nicolas Farr, Natalie Marie Herrin, Mamie Madison Puryear, Joseph Gregory Benfield, Mary Sloan Lanier, Chandler James Watson, Matthew Brian Simpson, Caleb Garrett Bryars, Cassie Savannah Cornelius, Dalton Hurst Malone, Nicholas James Blasko, Suzanna Ruth Bennett, Riley Michael Roberson, Benjamin Harris Baker, Grant Alexander Frost, Alan Ryan McIntosh, Mikel Jeremiah Bowers, Jonathan Douglas Rudd, Graci Caraline Williams, Jonathan Dustin Herrin, Alexis Elaine Jenkins, Bailey Mackenzie Peacock, Benjamin Sloan Strait, Jaqueline   Sierra, Mackenzie Lynn Davis, Jordan Shay Douberly, Hollyn Kate Stafford, Kylee Elizabeth Royer, Megan Brianne Cason, Milton Jerome Moody Jr., Kearington Elizabeth Moore, Abbie Marie Thornton, Connor James Howell, Connor Mathew Frost, Karlee Meia-lyn Odum and Rose Mary Kicklighter.


ADalton Larry Adams, Kaylee Jessica Allen, Cheyenne Marie Altman, Jonny Arzate, Tristin Jeffery Aspinwall, Ligia Eliana Avila, Jakob Elijah Badillo, Harleigh RaeAnn Baldwin, Damian Troy Baltzer, Alexis Nicole Batten, Cassie LeeAnn Beckham, Joel Christian Bennett, Mason Taylor Bennett, La’Morris De’Shaun Bethea, Maxx Iyes Bizzell, Nathaniel Lewis Bovee, Bryce Stephen Bowen, Laycee Amber Bowen, Cody Lee Boyett, Ryan Andrew Boyette, Gavin Jimmy Boyle, James Malachi Broadhead, Ro’Shon Aleesha Broady, Kierra Nicole Brooks, James Kenneth Cain, Christopher Corey Carter, Eston Travis Carter, Gregory Nathanael Carter, Helena Celeste Carter, Eli Benjamin Chancey, Charles David Ciarletta, Hannah Elizabeth Cloud, Jackson Archie Clough, Makayla Alyce Copeland, Dalton Wiley Cowan, Michael Dean Allen Crane, Kaci Marie Crase, Mattie Catherine Crawford, Daniel Antonio Cruz, Gabriel Caden Davenport, Emily Jeanette Davis, Kagan Chance Davis, Skyler Lang Davis, Connor Blaine Deal, Mackenzie Lexis Deloach, Anna Elizabeth Diaz, Anthony Cole Dixon, Curtis Lee Dixon Jr., Zachary Ladell Dixon, Cameron Lanier Douberly, Tyre Keshawn Joseph Dugger, Frankie Paulette Eason, Alexia Michele Eblin, Noah Bryant Eunice, Nolan Bryce Flowers, Essence Sherre Ford, Tyler Dixon Foreman, Erica Kristen Fowler, KaDee Madison Freeman, Sarah Madison Fulton, Jaime Lee Gaona, Collin Zane Goble, Jack Ean Golub, Arlenne Moreno Gonzalez, Arlette Moreno Gonzalez, Rodney Jerome Griner Jr., Sydney Carol Guinn, Justin Lane Hamelin, Marshall Henry Hancock, Braxton Henderson Harris, Clay Ashton Harrison, Mildred Pamela Herrera, Ryan Storm Herrin, Turin Leigh Herring, MacKenzie Dale Herrington, Pablo Robert Hipolito, Sunni Sheree Housley, Caleb Allen Howard, Jackson Matthew Howard, Jashad Nicholas Howard, Lorianna Joy Hyers, Karlie Lynn Jarrell, Marilyn Alyssa Jennings, Julieanna Diane Jernigan, Marquaris Emmanuel Jernigan, Camden Eli Jewell, Chiquita Alexis Johnson, Courtney Nicole Johnson, Laura Mabrie Johnson, Mark Kacee Johnson, Morgan Brianna Johnson, Zachary Wade Johnson, Zoie Elizabeth Johnson, John Markez Jones, Tony Frank Kight Jr., Mathew Allen King, Evan Jalon Kirkland, Gunnar Ross Knowlton, Dawson Blake Lankford, Paighton Koal Larson, Jaciel Airam Lasanta Vega, Dominic Erin Lavoie, Marissa Allison Lee, Jagger Thad Leggett, Sydney Faye Lewis, Hagen Layne Liles, Griselda Llamas-Vazquez, Michaela Ashley Logsdon, Anna Claire Long, Dakota Isaiah Long, Jean Carlos Lopez Menjivar, Kayla Marie Massie, Dylan Elijah McBee, Malloree Logan McDonald, David Alexander McGhin, Jukera Imani McKelvin, Barry Zane McKendree, Christopher Dale Meeks Jr., Mallory Renee Meeks, Caitlyn LeAnn Melton, Thomas Henry Metts II, Von Gage Middaugh, Zachary Michael Miller, Jeffery Lee Mobley Jr., Logan Robert Mobley, Zatavia Kayana Moore, Daniel Charles Mulkey, Christy Nicole Murray, Tyreek Isaih Diondre Myles, Bradlee William Newman, Alexis Danielle Nolan, James Anthony Paulk, Thomas Parker Peagler III, Daniela Plata, Jacob Austin Andrew Poole, Carly Morgan Popham, Morgan Elexis Popham, Skylar Li Ray, Emily Caroline Revels, James Matthew Roberson, Mallerie Nichole Roberson, Noah Ryan Roe, Shelley Yasmine Rowe, Caitlin Kara Rowell, Lance Taylor Rowland, Kelsey Leah Russell, Jennifer Graciela Sandoval, Juan Santana, Dylan Carter Sapp, Joseph Carter Christian Sasser, Skyler Jackson Scurry, Zykeith Rashad Isiah Shider, Haley Cheyenne Simmons, Mathew Cason Simmons, William Isaac Simpson, Cameron Cordell Smart, Ashley Parker Smith, Bret Austin Smith, Devin Michael Smith, Mary Elizabeth Smith, Mathew Quinton Smith, Eduardo Solorio, Fernando Solorio, Kaitlyn Sierra Spell, Heron Vandolph Steedley III, Madison Elizabeth Stewart, Holly Marie Sweat, Sylvia Johnna Tanner, Sydney Elise Taylor, Zaria LaShae Thomas, Cloie Madison Thompson, Sydney Elaine Thornton, Megan Elizabeth Thrift, Victoria Lynn Tinajero, Mollie Raye Tippins, James Griffin Tompkins, Lance Allen Treadwell, Kayleen NeChelle Truitt, Zowie Elexis Turbeville, Tyler Aaron David Veach, Hunter Avery Walters, Michael Dewayne Walters Jr., Rebecca Rose Wasdin, Jonathan Michael Waters, Hannah Nicole West, Hunter William Westberry, Samantha Maye Whitman, Ja’Leen Marquise Wilkerson, Dillan Scott Williams, Luke Hunter Williams, Deseray Nicole Wilson, Matthew Dillian Womack, Skylar Perry Worth, Jack Monroe Wright III, Alex Dwain Zanders and Jose Francisco Zuniga.