This is the official group photo of the Wellston High School Class of 2021. Following is a list of the The graduates for Wellston High School’s Class of 2021 are as follows: Isabella Arigoni, Syerra Au, Brock Cade, Emily Canter, Braydon Caudill, Timothy Causey, Daycee Clemons, Dylan Coffey, Kirstan Collins, Shana Comer, Gavin Covert, Rayna Cushman, Chloe Dailey, Bobbi Darnell, Tiara Deatherage, Shane Downard, Abram Eggers, Gabriel Evans-Loop, Alex Ewing, Darien Flannery, Adam Forcier, Cristopher Fraley, Jonathon Garvin, Joseph Goff, Elizabeth Grady, Johnna Hamblin, Chloe Helmic, Whitney Hodges, Kelli Holstein Jacob Howard, Michael Howard, Henry Howison, Rick Hubbard, Chase Ingalls, Zachary Jeffries, Brittany Johnson, Chloe Johnson, Kaitlynn Jones, Cameron Keirns, Robert Kemp IV, Makenna Kilgour, Michael Kuhn Jr., Tristan Lambert, William Linton, Cyrus Long, Lawrence Louderback, Halle Martin, Elizabeth Maynard, Hunter McCarty, Nathan McCarty, Wes McClain, Daniel McClellan III, Jace McKenzie, Kendra McManis, Rhianna McWilliams, Jasmyn Meacham, Connor Mercer, Terry Molihan, Zane Moore, and Brooklyn Mullins, Cheyenne Mullins, Abby Norris, Caleb Parker, Aaren Patton, Marissa Perkins, Jaquelyn Pfeiffer, Tara Powell, Kaitlynn Prater, Eston Riley, Emilee-Ann Ross, Cordell Rubio, Bailee Sexton, Natasha Sickles, Curtis Smart, Kristopher Smith, Rogan Vickers, Allyssa Vititoe, Jessica Wamsley, Garrett Warnock, Kai West, Alexandria Westawski, Jefferson White III, Jarrod Wilbur, Kenneth Williams, Travis Wilson, and William Zinn. (Photo Courtesy of Brian Lintala Photography)
This is the official group photo of the Wellston High School Class of 2021. Following is a list of the The graduates for Wellston High School’s Class of 2021 are as follows: Isabella Arigoni, Syerra Au, Brock Cade, Emily Canter, Braydon Caudill, Timothy Causey, Daycee Clemons, Dylan Coffey, Kirstan Collins, Shana Comer, Gavin Covert, Rayna Cushman, Chloe Dailey, Bobbi Darnell, Tiara Deatherage, Shane Downard, Abram Eggers, Gabriel Evans-Loop, Alex Ewing, Darien Flannery, Adam Forcier, Cristopher Fraley, Jonathon Garvin, Joseph Goff, Elizabeth Grady, Johnna Hamblin, Chloe Helmic, Whitney Hodges, Kelli Holstein Jacob Howard, Michael Howard, Henry Howison, Rick Hubbard, Chase Ingalls, Zachary Jeffries, Brittany Johnson, Chloe Johnson, Kaitlynn Jones, Cameron Keirns, Robert Kemp IV, Makenna Kilgour, Michael Kuhn Jr., Tristan Lambert, William Linton, Cyrus Long, Lawrence Louderback, Halle Martin, Elizabeth Maynard, Hunter McCarty, Nathan McCarty, Wes McClain, Daniel McClellan III, Jace McKenzie, Kendra McManis, Rhianna McWilliams, Jasmyn Meacham, Connor Mercer, Terry Molihan, Zane Moore, and Brooklyn Mullins, Cheyenne Mullins, Abby Norris, Caleb Parker, Aaren Patton, Marissa Perkins, Jaquelyn Pfeiffer, Tara Powell, Kaitlynn Prater, Eston Riley, Emilee-Ann Ross, Cordell Rubio, Bailee Sexton, Natasha Sickles, Curtis Smart, Kristopher Smith, Rogan Vickers, Allyssa Vititoe, Jessica Wamsley, Garrett Warnock, Kai West, Alexandria Westawski, Jefferson White III, Jarrod Wilbur, Kenneth Williams, Travis Wilson, and William Zinn. (Photo Courtesy of Brian Lintala Photography)

A group of 86 young men and women, after overcoming the numerous hurdles and constant uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, crossed the proverbial finish line together, becoming Wellston High School (WHS) graduates during the 135th annual commencement ceremony held Friday night, May 28 inside the WHS gymnasium.

The event began with a welcome from Senior Class President Isabella Arigoni, followed by the introduction of guests by Class Vice President Abby Norris. Invocation was led by Senior Class Treasurer and co-Best-of-Class honoree Cordell Rubio, and the singing of the National Anthem was performed by members of the WHS Symphonic Choir under the direction of Leigh Davis.

Class Secretary Brooklyn Mullins then introduced the Best-of-Class honorees Kendra McManis and Rubio.

McManis is the daughter of Stacy Bapst and Kenneth McManis. During her high-school career, she was an active member in the WHS National Honor Society, Interact, the WHS choir, the drama club and was a senior class representative. Kendra was also the Wellston Golden Rocket Marching Band Field Commander and is currently a McDonald’s Crew Chief. 

In the fall, McManis plans on attending Ohio University to major insocialwork and to pursue a career insocialservices.

During her time at the podium, McManis gave thanks to all of the parents of the graduating class for their support this past school year.

“Obviously, this year has been really rough for everyone, but these parents have put in so many extra hours and worked to try and ensure the seniors got the most out of this honestly dreadful year,” she said. “And thanks to the staff and teachers for spending countless hours arranging a COVID-safe graduation. It really does mean a lot to even have a ceremony.”

McManis, while disappointed in not being able to have a senior year like most all other graduating classes prior, likewise expressed gratitude for what she and her classmates were able to experience.

“I believe we are one of the strongest graduating classes Wellston has ever had, even though there are only 80-some of us,” she stated. “We’re small but mighty. I’m so proud of everyone in this class who hasn’t given up. Stay strong, keep your head up and remain hopeful.”

Rubio is the son of Gustavo and Sonia Robles. He was the co-president of the National Honor Society, the secretary of Student Council, and a senior representative. Rubio was an active member of the WHS Golden Rocket Marching Band for five years, was a member of cultures club, the art club and is a cashier at Kroger. He also is a three-time Americanism Award winner, is firefighter 1 certified and received a 31 on his ACT. 

Rubio plans to attend The Ohio State University once he has graduated from AIT as a Combat Medic. He plans on participating in the Army ROTC program while majoring in psychology with a minor in military science. Afterwards, he plans on attending medical school.

During his speech, Rubio gave thanks to his friends, teachers, Army recruiter and parents. To the latter, he stated, “I want to thank them for loving me because, whether or not you believe it, that’s considered rare today. I want to thank them for the unspoken sacrifices that they made. I’ve done as much as I can to make you both proud. I joined the Army, I became a firefighter, I graduated Best-of-Class (or I soon will), but I want them to know that out of everything I’ve done, I’m most proud to be their son.”

Next, Rubio hit on a total of seven points in an attempt to convey advice on leadership, something he said all of the people to whom he had just given thanks have in common. Overall, he said true leaders always listen to others, they lead by example, they are grateful for everything, they surround themselves with good people, they regret the things they didn’t do more than the things they did, they find something new every day, and they love everybody.

“As Mrs. [Tina] Callahan taught us, seize the day, because you never know when your time will run out,” Rubio said. “Take one last glance over your shoulder because this may be your last good-bye, which is something I’m really grateful for. Take it all in because soon this will be the past. The future travels fast, and nothing gold (or blue) can last.”

WHS Assistant Principal Shane Stevens, prior to presenting diplomas alongside members of the Board of Education, spoke a bit about the Class of 2021’s various accomplishments over the past four years in the areas of civic organizations, academic clubs and organizations, scholastic awards, athletics, musical and theatrical programs, and more. Regarding sports, Stevens pointed to soon-to-be graduate Brock Eggers who was the overall 195-pound State Champion Powerlifter; he explained that the Class of 2021 helped found the first-ever Ohio High School Athletic Association soccer team in WHS history; he said the class’s football team qualified for the State Finals for the first time in 13 years, were the TVC Champions for the first time in 18 years, hosted the first-ever home playoff game and won the school’s first-ever playoff game; and he stated the class’s baseball team were Sectional tournament champs, and were the TVC and Sectional Champions in two out of the last three years they were permitted to play.

Stevens went on to say that the WHS Symphonic Choir received numerous ‘Superior’ and ‘Excellent’ ratings in statewide competitions, the Drama Club put on wonderful productions of “Alice in Wonderland,” “Willy Wonka, Jr.,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and that the WHS Golden Rocket Marching Band earned numerous solo and ensemble ‘Superior’ ratings at several local school and regional events. With further regard to the band, Stevens said the group was back-to-back Buckeye Classic Grand Champions in Classes B and C, qualified for Ohio State Marching Band Finals four straight years, earned nine OMEA Marching Band ‘Superior’ ratings and eight ‘Excellent’ ratings, and placed second in Class A of the Bands of America Super Regionals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

After the diplomas had been handed out, Superintendent Karen Boch took a moment to recognize longtime educator Rick Perdue, who has officially retired.

“Like our graduates, Mr. Perdue is moving on and beginning a new chapter,” she said. “We’ve been blessed to have Mr. Perdue working with us in Wellston City Schools for over 30 years. I want to congratulate you on your retirement, and I want to wish you many blessings and much happiness. Thank you for all that you’ve done for us.”

Finally, before confirming the graduates of the Class of 2021, Boch gave thanks, offered advice and addressed the unique challenges through which the group persevered.

“As a class, you’ve had an experience like no other, as you have had to face a global pandemic – specifically COVID-19,” she said. “You worked through the challenges by collaborating with you classmates, families and the WHS staff in order to find creative ways to celebrate your accomplishments. This required perseverance, courage and teamwork. All of these are characteristics that are necessary as you step into adulthood. Please keep in touch, stand tall and be proud that you are a graduate of WHS. Thank you for making our lives better. Go on your way and remember to make a positive difference.”