Class Of 2021, Graduating From The School Where “Students Pursue Their Dreams”


(Ayla Yebba)

Durant graduates wait to receive their high school diplomas.

Ayla Yebba, Assistant to the Editor

Held at the Florida State Fairgrounds, in Central Tampa, Durant’s class of 2021 walked across the graduation stage, moving on from high school and into their next stage of life. 

Durant staff, friends and family members of the graduates came together on May 25 to celebrate the graduating Durant seniors receiving their high school diploma after four long years of hard work.

Emily Smith, senior class President, started off the ceremony with a welcome speech. “I would like to take a moment, at this time, to recognize the teachers and staff who have worked tirelessly over the past four years to establish the culture and high academic standards that will get us prepared for the next four years,” said Smith.

Senior class Vice President, William “Will” Haxton, then initiated the presentation of the colors and Pledge of Allegiance. 

Soon after Ms. Candace Cullpepper, assistant principal for administration, gave recognition to the different elementary and middle schools that the class of 2021 attended. Many different elementary and middle schools were called out by Cullpepper, and if a graduating senior attended that school they would stand and be applauded. 

“Although our seniors tonight will graduate from Durant High School, we recognize that many educators have assisted these seniors along the way, several years before they arrived at Durant. Tonight we would like to call attention to the elementary and middle schools that were instrumental in their education,” said Cullpepper.

“Tonight 555 seniors will graduate. These seniors entered our hallways and classrooms four years ago under the motto of Durant High School, ‘Where Students Pursue Their Dreams,’” said Gary Graham, Principal of Durant High School. “The class of 2021 has pursued their dreams through some remarkable accomplishments.”

These seniors entered our hallways and classrooms four years ago under the motto of Durant High School, ‘Where Students Pursue Their Dreams,”

— Gary Graham

Graham then recognized the specific academic accomplishments and awards that many of the seniors received. Specifically, Graham mentioned scholarships that some seniors have been awarded, some worth more than $20,000 each. He also acknowledged the six seniors who have graduated with AP Capstone Diplomas, the 61 seniors who earned the seal of biliteracy, and other seniors who have accomplished amazing things white attending Durant.

Graham then introduced the Salutatorian, Shivani Persad, and the Valedictorian, Valeria Cortes, who both presented their speeches.

The 555 seniors graduating then formed a line to start receiving their high school diplomas.

At the very end of the ceremony Mr. Graham asked for all of the graduating seniors and previously graduated Durant seniors to sing Durant’s alma mater.

“Durant Cougars, you’re always in my heart. Durant Cougars, you’ll always be a part of my life. And no matter where I go, And no matter what I do, Durant Cougars, I’ll remember you…”

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2021. Stay safe in the future and don’t forget that you’ll always be a Durant Cougar.