Bobcat senior challenges classmates to love, put faith in the Lord

Published 11:42 am Friday, May 17, 2024

BOGUE CHITTO — The 2024 graduating class at Bogue Chitto is 51 strong. Caps were tossed in the air to celebrate the big occasion Thursday. 

On gym floor space reserved for graduate families, a seat was saved for fallen deputy William Durr. He was one of eight officers honored this week by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Durr’s end of watch was May 27, 2017. His son William Nash Durr was one of 51 graduates Thursday evening.

Principal Scott Merrell delivered his final commencement speech as a principal. He is retiring from the position and his son Andrew Merrell was part of the graduating class of Bobcats. Scott said he was proud and privileged to preside over the commencement. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“In no way should my brevity reflect any insincerity,” he said. “This class possesses potential. They have secured academic awards in the $100,000s. These graduates were given academic, band, singing, football, basketball, baseball and tennis scholarships by many colleges and universities. Some received Mississippi Scholar Scholarships.” 

Scott said the 2024 class at Bogue Chitto had several impressive qualities with character leading the way. In his 30 years of working in education, Scott said he had never seen the level of talent, drive, decency, humor and adaptability in a class like this one. 

“Thank you to the parents who contributed to their upbringing. How fitting is that these seniors get to become a permanent part of this rich history, school and community,” Scott said. “I’ll miss you all and I’m proud. This will be my last graduation speech and my last class. I pray you look back on this time kindly and with respect. High school graduation is a right of passage. You are no longer children. This ceremony marks the beginning of that journey.” 

Alecia Nelson was salutatorian and welcomed everyone to the ceremony. She thanked the families who encouraged the class throughout the years. 

Her grandparents made an influence in her academic life. Nelson said she hopes to have made her parents proud. 

“No amount of gratitude can pay back the dedication you have poured into me,” Nelson said. “It is hard to believe we will all go our separate ways now. Thank you to my friends. To the rest of my class, I’m grateful for the memories. It is my great honor to be a member of the Bobcat nation. This is a school built on family, love and support. Thank you to the community for always showing love. Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat.” 

A steady rain settled in while valedictorian Taylor Jackson took to the podium to give her speech. The steady drumming of rain on the tin roof helped Jackson deliver her message. 

She again thanked the parents, teachers and staff for pouring love and energy into the class. Graduation is an exciting day, but profoundly bittersweet. Jackson said she felt a little saddened by the occasion. There is so much to look forward to and at the same time so much to be missed. 

“It can be scary but I know it will work out in the end. I encourage you to make the most of every moment. Never stop loving others and always put your faith in the Lord,” Jackson said. “It is so important to live now, don’t wait to live later. We have experienced how fast life goes. Enjoy it, before you blink, the distant future becomes the distant past.” 

She challenged her classmates to make the most of every moment, to share genuine love and to help others. Her piece of advice was to always be looking for the best because then graduates could make an impact. 

Jackson acknowledged some students might be looking at the watches on their wrists, wondering when she would be done with her speech. She said she knows some are ready for the next chapter and others are still holding on. 

“No matter your feelings we should be prepared. Life will be hard. I ask you now to listen to me. The only way to get through hard times is to have faith in something greater,” Jackson said. “If you put your trust in the Lord you will have joy every day. Keep your eyes on Him in the midst of the storms of life. Life is coming, responsibilities will come too. Tomorrow is coming, so enjoy it right now. I’m excited for the wonderful things you will accomplish. Let’s enjoy what comes next.”