Nearly 200 Panthers run off into the night as graduates

Published 9:10 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — It was nearly standing room only at Brookhaven High School’s graduation. Administration had to push the graduation back to 7:15 p.m. due to the number of people still in line waiting to go through one gate and one metal detector.

The 2024 class of Brookhaven is 175 strong. Candles were lit to honor fallen classmate Austin Edwards who was killed in the May 27-28, 2017 shootings in Bogue Chitto.

Brianna Brown, class president, welcomed everyone to the big day. She said the class had been waiting on this day since the first day of kindergarten. It went by quickly.

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“We now say goodbye to a chapter in our lives,” Brown said. “We would like to thank the educators for pushing us who they knew we could be. Most of us don’t know what will come next. Time went really fast. Even after all of the planning for our futures we still have some butterflies. We always knew this day would come. Welcome to our future.”

Maria Berrera served as the salutatorian. She said the entire class made her whole. Berrera thanked God, their families, parents, teachers coaches and administrators for helping them reach the big day.

Her story in the Brookhaven School District began in kindergarten. English was her second language.

“I was in the most talkative kindergarten class and I was fluent after three months. I’ve never stopped talking,” Berrera said. “In junior high, we discovered our passions and aimed for the sky. Luckily for us, Freshman year was not that scary. It was COVID. We were sent home for sitting too close to someone who tested positive. I joined many organizations and met so many people. Some lessons weren’t the easiest. Don’t ever let it stop you from succeeding. If you want to do something your will and perseverance will get you there.”

Jillian Porter was the valedictorian. She wished everyone the best as the time they have shared comes to an end with graduation.

“As we grew I slowly came out of my shell and I could see the kindness in the hearts of so many graduating,” Porter said. “I’ll be forever grateful. Some of them have become my best and sweetest friends. During COVID, I had no idea what the future had in store for me. We had masked days and quarantines but we developed strength and resilience and pushed through for four years. We did it BHS. To every classmate behind me, good luck and best wishes for everything the future has in store.”