Picayune celebrates seniors, promotes graduation

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CELEBRATE: A member of the Picayune Memorial High School student council asks a senior what cupcake they want at the senior luncheon Monday.  Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

CELEBRATE: A member of the Picayune Memorial High School student council asks a senior what cupcake they want at the senior luncheon Monday.
Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

Picayune Memorial High School graduating seniors went to school on Monday even though it was not a mandatory day to attend.

The busy day kicked off with a senior slideshow, which allows each student to enjoy a moment of recognition, said Picayune Memorial High School teacher Angela Hawthorne.

For the last several years, Hawthorne has been in charge of putting together the slideshow, which includes a slide for each senior that entails a baby picture and their senior portrait.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Sometimes every kid doesn’t get their moment in the spotlight and I just like for everyone to get their moment,” Hawthorne said.

The slideshow also includes submitted photos from the students starting from kindergarten to prom, Hawthorne said.

Hawthorne said it takes her about a month and a half to put together the slide show and gather pictures from all the seniors.

Assistant Principal Kristi Mitchell said the slide show has been a senior tradition since 2006 and it’s something all students look forward to.

She said freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are invited to watch the slide show and are usually as attentive as seniors.

“It’s promoting getting the diploma, which is our goal here at the high school,” Mitchell said.

She said the slide show shows future graduates what it takes to get to that point and it gives them something to look forward.

Senior and junior high school counselor Toni Tucei said the senior slide show and other fun treats like senior wishes are not only about graduation, but about making senior year fun.

“Seniors are a tough group because they’re still kids, but adults at the same time. So anything we can do to make their experience at high school better and not to leave on a sour note,” Tucei said.

Before the slide show started, outgoing student council president Alexis Smith addressed the audience that included students, parents and faculty.

Smith spoke about the family atmosphere at Picayune Memorial High School and also left seniors with a message about attaining goals.

Smith told the seniors that they have the ability to achieve anything they set their minds to and that academics don’t have to define them or what they are capable of.

“We still have the ability to forge our paths and to not let high school be the end for us,” Smith said.

After the slideshow, the seniors participated in a rehearsal for senior awards night and learned the alma mater.

Choir teacher Sherri Lawley usually teaches the graduating seniors the alma mater, but this year was her last year.

Lawley asked the seniors to make her proud during Monday’s rehearsal.

After rehearsal, the seniors were treated to a luncheon by the student council.

The luncheon gave seniors one last opportunity to eat with their friends and relax before graduating on Thursday.

Mitchell said the 13 years that students spend in school is just one step in their journey in life and the senior events, like the slide show and luncheon, are ways to “reward them for their excellence and to showcase to them their successes and the fun that they’ve had along the way.”

The journey to graduation is something the high school focuses on during freshman orientation.

“One of the things we’ve tried to stress the last few years is beginning with the end in mind,” Mitchell said.

This includes the freshmen receiving a list of class choices they will choose from over the next four years, ACT preparation, college preparation and taking pictures with a diploma in a maroon cap and gown.

Mitchell said they ask the freshmen about their goals and then present them with the information and tools needed to reach that goal.