Medora grads unlock the door to the future



The Medora High School Class of 2021 may have been one of the school’s smaller ones in recent years, but that just made them closer.

“I know a little more than I would like about a few of you, but you’ve all been there for me,” Jaylen Spence said during his valedictorian address Friday night in the school gymnasium.

“I thank all of you for your support and care in my hard times between my father’s passing, my accident and everything in between,” he said. “You all really helped me.”

Speaking during the school’s 125th commencement exercise, Spence said he was proud of his 10 classmates.

“The ones I’ve been with since preschool and kindergarten and the new additions, like David (Persinger) and Zach (Wolfe), we’ve all become family,” he said.

“I want you to all follow your dreams and achieve them,” he said. “Don’t look back on life wishing you would have done something. Just do it. Don’t miss your opportunities. If you fail, then learn from it. Don’t let it tear you down. Look back when you are older and be glad that you learned from your experiences and grew instead of never doing anything at all.”

Besides his classmates, Spence had a lengthy list of people to thank, including the teachers, school staff, administrators, school board, parents, family members, friends and others in the community.

“You did your best to educate and prepare us for what lies ahead,” he said. “Our class has been a stubborn bunch, but you never gave up on us. You kept pushing us, and we really needed it.”

Spence said every journey begins with a single step.

“This is step one,” he said. “By graduating and earning our diplomas, we have secured the key to our future. We have spent our while lives working to get to this day, to gain this key. Now, unlock the door ahead and experience what the world has waiting for us. Our journey truly begins now, and I wish everyone the best.”

Salutatorian Keyla Newby said when they were younger, she and her classmates were sometimes told they were in a difficult class.

“We’ve had our struggles and made mistakes, but we’ve grown up so much,” she said. “Our class has shown tremendous maturity and growth to make it this far. I look forward to seeing the achievements we will continue to make in the years to come.”

She said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change some traditions.

“We’ve had to adapt and overcome, often making decisions that conflict with our own views to ensure the safety of our country,” she said. “Many people admire that we have been able to finish our education during this time, myself included.”

She told her classmates the battle has begun.

“We still have to fight every day to ensure that we accomplish our goals,” Newby said. “There are even more barricades in our path, and the journey has been made longer. But the fight in us is strong, and we are ready to face this challenge. In life, it you are not challenged, you are not changed.”

Newby said she believes each member of the class has an important purpose in life.

“I’ve never been more certain that we can make a difference in this world,” she said.

Senior class Vice President Jared Starr opened commencement by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and Spence, who also was senior class president, welcomed everyone.

Once the speeches, including one by school board President Joe Campbell, were wrapped up, Superintendent Roger Bane accepted the class, and Campbell then helped distribute the diplomas.

Spence then performed his last official act as class president leading the traditional turning of the tassels, followed by the recessional.

Graduation was bittersweet for some, including Wolfe, who already has a job but said he will miss Medora a lot because he liked his teachers and his classmates.

“I liked going here,” he said.

Classmate David Persinger plans to join the Marines but will miss seeing his friends each day.

“Everybody tells me it’s a good lifestyle to live,” he said of the Marines. “It will set you straight.”

Persinger said not seeing the friends he has made over the years is the thing he will miss the most.

Kaitlynn Cobb agreed.

“All of my teachers and being with my classmates,” said Cobb, who plans to go into dental work.

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