The Cedartown High School Class of 2021 gathered one last time on Saturday morning to celebrate their graduation, and say so long to their alma mater before heading off into the wider world.

Not before hearing some parting words of wisdom, and giving the school a chance to show their gratitude for a positive end to a difficult year for Bulldog seniors.

Principal Scott Hendrix provided an impassioned and emotional tribute to the Class of 2021, honoring both students and educators for being strong and overcoming obstacles like the COVID-19 pandemic to return to class last year, and achieve in the process.

He also gave a heartfelt tribute to Michael “MJ” Whatley, who tragically died of natural causes earlier this year following his senior year playing for the Bulldogs football program.

Hendrix said his determination to become a better football player was an example for all those in the Class of 2021 to follow.

“We can all be heroes if we’re intentional in our actions,” Hendrix said. “I believe we’re surrounded by heroes.”

He told of many a hero over the past year – teachers who despite their fears because of pre-existing conditions returning to the classroom, or the student in the Polk County College and Career Academy nursing program also working at a nursing home keeping up her work despite the risk posed to her during the past year – and praised them for their efforts to make the Class of 2021 one of the best yet.

Salutatorian Kendy Lopez also provided a first for Cedartown High School in recent years: a speech in two languages. She provided both an English and Spanish version of her speech to the Class of 2021 so her family members and others in the audience could also understand.

Speaking of her journey to the United States five years before, she rose from not knowing English to the second in the graduating class of the Cedartown Bulldogs during that time, but not without adversity and hard work. She told her classmates to that though all are ending a chapter in their lives and starting a new one, all have the ability to achieve despite the loss of loved ones over the past year.

“We stood together… We learned the importance of patience, perseverance, faith and determination,” she said. “We are ready for awaits us out there, and no matter what gets in our way just remember that we broke the odds. One day, we’ll be old telling our children and grandchildren about the difficult circumstances we had to go through. We will explain to them how difficult it really was, but we will also tell them that we were able to survive.”

Valedictorian Evan Holder finished his high school studies in December and already moved onto college, and wasn’t on hand to provide words of wisdom for the Class of 2021 during the Saturday festivities.

The CHS Class of 2021 included 110 honor graduates and 243 students who earned a certificate of some form following four years of high school.

Here’s a link to the CHS Graduation livestream courtesy of their Facebook page.

The Class of 2021 graduation pages for Cedartown remain available as well for those who want to see who was a graduate this year.

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