WAXHAW – Jackson Adams, senior class historian for Marvin Ridge High School, said it was initially challenging to write a commencement speech since it was hard to remember what a normal school year looked like. 

He relied on  pop stars like Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, The Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift for inspiration and context June 4 for his biting commentary about the pandemic. 

“We first thought it will be nothing serious but we soon realized that this would be a big deal,” Adams said. “We went to the store and about excessive amounts of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks and snacks to binge watch Joe Exotic sing “I Saw a Tiger” in the show 'Tiger King.'

“When Dua Lipa did a full 180, a lot of us who are stuck inside for quarantine could relate to her. Many of us started quarantine looking like an American Eagle model and ended it looking like we just exited the back of a Hot Topic.”

Adams credited the Class of 2021 for being resilient by overcoming obstacles put in their path. 

Principal Donna Cook said students have not let the restrictions of the past year stop them from pursuing excellence. 

The 429 graduates of the Class of 2021 generated more than $25 million in scholarships. About 95% of graduates are continuing education, including 39 bound for Appalachian State University. Some are even going to Australia, Italy, Scotland and Spain. The rest are planning for the workforce, military or a gap year. 

“I hope you will look back on your time at Marvin Ridge in overwhelmingly positive ways with the last 18 months having served as a plot twist that I believe will just make your high school story all the more interesting for the decades ahead,” Cook told them. 

Student Body President Alex Kappos said it's important to take what they've learned from school and apply it to future challenges. 

English teacher Chip McGee talked about the importance of purpose. If you're not consistently asking what you are doing for others, he said, that purpose may be incomplete.

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