No sooner had the class of 2013 said hello to Mike Murphy than they were saying goodbye.
Murphy took over as principal at Pulaski County High School last March in the wake of the school’s low test scores, which forced a change in leadership.
This year, the school was back on track, as it learned that it ranked in the 82nd percentile in the “Unbridled Learning” testing system to help the county school district finish in the state’s top 10.
It’s something the graduating class of seniors — which received their diplomas Saturday morning in the Pulaski County High School gymnasium — could take pride in as they leave the place they’ve called their academic home for the last four years.
“I believe this class of 2013 has strength like no other,” said co-salutatorian Mackenzi Cooper. “Together, we’ve returned our school to success, both academically and on the sports field.”
With a new focus in Kentucky schools on getting students “college and career ready,” Pulaski County High School excelled in this regard. As many as 37 students graduated with advanced diplomas, and 21 with a grade point average (GPA) of 4.0 or higher. Six were in the prestigious Governor’s Scholars program last summer.
In all, 267 students were recognized for their achievement in moving on from high school to the next stage of their life.
Unfortunately, not all their classmates were able to celebrate the day. Members of the class of 2013 recognized two of their fallen friends, Cassie Hannah and Jacob Ebenstein, both of whom passed away this school year.
Co-valedictorian Aaron Hall said he counted the two late classmates as friends, adding, “I believe they are looking down on us and sharing in this honor.”
In looking toward the future, Hall quoted the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verses 13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Hall wished for his classmates to make the right choices moving forward.
“There are two paths in life: one seems to be the easy path ... the other, the journey we will be on, leads to success in life,” he said.
Co-valedictorian Kennedy McAlpin shared anecdotes about ways she found to make a difference in the world, including helping to sponsor a small child she met while on a mission trip to South Africa.
“Each one of us can make a difference in someone’s life every day,” said McAlpin, noting it could be something as simple as a helpful comment or a smiling face that could do the trick.
Co-salutatorian Arissa McKee recalled the simpler days for herself and her classmates, when they dreamed big dreams of being a star athlete or a supermodel — or even the President of the United States.
“Now we face reality; we can’t all be president — except maybe (co-valedictorian) Aaron Hall,” quipped McKee before asking, “What are your future plans?... Enjoy the moment. Don’t sweat the small things. Have fun. Enjoy the summer. Live for the moment.”
As a parting gift, the Class of 2013 gave their new principal Mike Murphy a special gift box — a lovely parting gift by which each can remember the other,