Enid High School’s 402 graduating seniors capped off an eventful year with a virtual graduation ceremony Thursday night.

Broadcast on YouTube, Facebook Live and Enid Public Schools Television, the online ceremony was a first for EHS after all of the district’s students and teachers moved to at-home distance learning in April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speeches for the ceremony were recorded May 12, before EPS ended school a week earlier than scheduled on May 14. Video of the ceremony now is available online.

An in-person ceremony for the seniors also is planned for 7:30 p.m. June 18 at D. Bruce Selby Stadium. A second option would be to have the graduation ceremony July 30. Chisholm Trail Expo Center also has been reserved for both dates as the inclement weather location, according to EPS.

Standing at a lectern flanked by overflowing pots of flowers resting on two columns, EPS Superintendent Darrell Floyd, in a ceremonial graduation gown, recognized the difficulties the class of 2020 had faced because of the pandemic.

“Seniors, you have had to endure something that no other class at EHS has ever had to endure, but you have done it with grace and resilience. I encourage you to take that resilience and make it work positively in your life moving forward,” Floyd said. “Those lessons learned … will benefit you for the rest of your life.”

EHS Principal Dudley Darrow commended the graduates for picking a fitting class motto: “Looking ahead, but remembering the past.”

“I hope all of you never forget your past, and please don’t forget Enid High School. Don’t forget where you came from, because I know that we’re never going to forget you,” Darrow said.

He commended the graduating seniors for their high academic achievements, in spite of the numerous obstacles they had faced — not only over the last semester, but through all four years of high school, as well as their entire lives, having been born in the 9/11 era.

“And now 18 years later, you’re graduating high school again in an era that will likely have residual effects going forward for the years to come,” he said.

Of the class’ 402 seniors, 99 graduated with honors, having maintained a high GPA and taken advanced classes, Darrow said. Forty-three of those received valedictorian honors, having maintained a 4.0 or higher GPA.

He also thanked the EHS faculty and staff for their efforts keeping classes going once the high school moved to distance learning, following the state’s lead to close schools.

Darrow will move on from principal to EPS assistant superintendent of secondary education and will be succeeded by Jennifer Cruz for the 2020-21 school year. Cruz’s first day will be July 1.

Three seniors, along with senior class president Kurt Marin, also gave pre-recorded speeches in Thursday night’s ceremony.

Valedictorian speaker Piper Tucker echoed Darrow by recounting numerous moments throughout her and her peers’ time at EHS: when Bishop-McGuinness football players refused to shake hands because of a mumps scare their freshman year; when the cafeteria caught on fire; and when teachers stopped teaching for two weeks during the 2018 Oklahoma teachers’ strike.

“Most people will begin to see us as the class that never got to finish their senior year, but we will also be the class that will never be forgotten,” Tucker said.

Salutatorian speaker Bruce Lamoreaux shared two pearls of wisdom from his time away from school the last several months: That every situation can become an opportunity; and that it’s important to visualize the end goal.

“There were many instances where I had barely had enough motivation to do anything remotely productive, but the image of what I was working towards always lifted me off the couch and helped me through the last physics problem or statistics lesson,” Lamoreaux said.

Senior class speaker Kimrey Klamm thanked her family — and her mom, specifically — for their support, the faculty for their hours of work to make students’ lives easier and her peers “for literally everything.”

“I am thrilled you all were a part of my story, but I thank you all especially for letting me be a part of yours,” she said.

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