Pope High School Commencement Ceremony Serves as Tribute to 2020 Graduates, School Community

The commencement ceremony for Pope High School’s Class of 2020 was a time to honor student accomplishments, but the students also used the opportunity to thank those who helped them achieve success. 

From the class president to the valedictorian and salutatorian, the student speakers all praised their parents, friends, teachers, school faculty, and community members who helped them “soar as high as their dreams would carry [them].” 

“This final ceremony is about celebrating our success as students, but we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the support we have received along the way, especially in this extraordinary year,” said Emma Hearn, Pope Student Government Association president. “To all of you, we cannot thank you enough with words so our future success will have to speak for us instead.” 

The students also applauded how their classmates had persevered over the past few months so they could walk across the stage at McEachern High School’s Cantrell Stadium to collect their diplomas on July 21.  

“Our perception of what these days should look like is what led us to where we are right now. We are strong. We are resilient, and we are ready to face the challenges set out before us,” applauded Grant Chernau, one of Pope’s 2020 salutatorians. While we continue to travel down our own paths, we remember this time, not for its disappointments but for its triumphs.”   

When Principal Tom Flugum addressed the 2020 graduates, he listed some of those triumphs.  

The Pope Class of 2020 qualified for more than $5 million in scholarships and included four National Merit Scholarship finalists. During their shortened senior year, Pope won two state championships in softball and wrestling, and the school’s drama department earned the Showstopper Shuler Award. Across their high school career, the 2020 graduates helped contribute over $270,000 to fight childhood cancer. 

“The Class of 2020 has gracefully and humbly submitted to serve others,” Principal Flugum praised. “You have always represented Pope well and made your families, school, and community proud. Continue to pursue excellence in all things. Continue to think. Continue to learn. Continue to grow and continue to lead.”