HONEY GROVE — Forty two Honey Grove ISD seniors graduated Friday evening, 36 of whom graduated with distinction. Twenty four were honor students in the Class of 2021. High school Principal Tammy Mariani officiated the ceremony.
“This is a significant milestone in the lives of these young people. Their graduation represents not only their hard work and dedication, but that of their families of friends who have supported them throughout their education,” Mariani said in the crowded gymnasium.
Valedictorian Makiyah Johnson was brought to tears during her address while thanking those who had stood beside her as she received her degree. She recalled fond memories she and her fellow classmates had experienced.
“My fellow classmates, today marks one of many milestones you will experience. We spent the last 12 years preparing for high school graduation. All the tests, the homework, the studying, was to get us to this moment despite the obstacles we faced. The moments that we shared, having our junior year ripped from us in the blink of an eye, going to regional finals for softball, our trip to the Holocaust museum, supporting each other,” Johnson said.
Notably, Johnson is also the second Black valedictorian for Honey Grove ISD, the last graduating more than 40 years ago.
“I feel like it means more to my community, the Black community. It’s bigger than me. Because for so long — 40 years — there hasn’t been a Black valedictorian. When I graduated the eighth grade, I was salutatorian. I was like that’s my goal, like I’m gonna do that. My family has never had anyone graduate at the top of the class, so that’s just where my motivation came from,” Johnson said.
She also told of how losing her cousin in her freshman year greatly impacted her studies and her high school years, followed by the pandemic in her junior year. In the future, Johnson will be attending Galveston College and majoring in pre-medical studies. She plans to pursue a career in pediatric surgery.
Salutatorian Allie Towery also thanked those who had supported her, saluting her fellow classmates.
“I would like to salute the entire class of 2021, because we have made it here tonight, and that’s more than enough to be celebrated… It’s crazy how we started this journey 14 years ago. And this amount of time now seems miniscule as we graduate today. One thing that I will keep with me as I leave Honey Grove High School is that time waits for no man,” Towery said.
Towery will be attending Texas A&M University College Station. She will major in kinesiology and pursue a career related to physical therapy.
Johnson had a cumulative GPA of 103.56; Towery a 103.39.
In his speech, Superintendent Todd Morrison spoke to the adversity the Class of 2021 overcame, specifically calling attention to one student who had gone ahead and graduated despite the setbacks he initially faced.
“Let me tell you about the biggest example of this class overcoming adversity. Got a young man born 18 years ago with a rare disease. The doctors said this young man was probably not gonna live a long time; if he does, it’ll just be a couple birthdays. They weren’t sure how meaningful his life was gonna be 18 years ago. This young man enjoys school more than any individual I’ve ever been a part of,” Morrison said, tributing Ryan Charles.
“When you look back after tonight, life’s gonna hit you in the face a few times. Your roof’s gonna leak, you’re gonna have a flat on your vehicle. I’m wondering how I’m gonna pay the electric bill, do I have a job, don’t have a job… whatever it is, whatever adversity comes your way, I want you to look back on these examples. Look back on Ryan Charles and realize, adversity’s not that big of a deal. I can overcome anything. Congratulations Class of 2021,” Morrison said.