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Vicksburg High graduates 221

Pomp and Circumstance played and the Vicksburg High School Class of 2018 processed down the aisle as loud cheers sent them along their way into the next chapter of their lives.

Rain throughout the week forced the graduation to be moved indoors and the ceremony split into two parts, but even the late change of schedule couldn’t dampen the joyous mood at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Between the two ceremonies, 221 students became alumni of Vicksburg High School Thursday. Although the names called differed between the two ceremonies, much of the pageantry remained the same as student council president Nick Anderson gave the invocation, class president Alyssa Cabezas gave the welcome and Class of 2018 valedictorian Jon Bantugan gave his speech at both ceremonies.

“I felt a sense of accomplishment for them,” said Vicksburg High principal Angela Johnson, who is finishing her first year at the school. “It has been an interesting year for them to say the least. They came together and they really worked together to help each other to make sure all those who were apart of the class graduated. I just wish them the best.”

During each ceremony, the students present were honored for the scholarships they received and the members of the top 10 who were participating in that half were recognized.

The graduates combined to receive more than $900,000 in scholarships and complete dual-credit courses equal to more than $800,000 in free college tuition.

Bantugan, who was also his school’s STAR student, will attend Mississippi State. He began his speech by welcoming everyone to the ceremony including, “faculty, staff, parents, grandparents and uncles who didn’t get a pass, but happened to slip pass security,” leading to laughter throughout the hall.

The humor carried over throughout the speech as he recapped the four years of high school, encouraged his classmates to work hard in their future endeavors and thanked teachers, and SparkNotes, for helping him succeed throughout high school.

“It feels like yesterday that we were just tiny kids in preschool playing games, taking naps and wetting the bed,” Bantugan said. “But look at us now, young adults. We are playing Fortnite, taking naps and probably still wetting the bed. But guess what, we have a diploma. The general mentality of high school graduates across the nation probably includes feelings like I am ready to get out of here, or finally it is over. But me? Yeah, it is the same thing.”

He continued to say he won’t miss the pop quizzes, stress or the button to open the front door that never worked, but he will miss his friends and classmates, the teachers who inspired him and of course the students who would open the front door because the button didn’t work.

After Bantugan finished his speech, the names of the graduates were called leading to raucous cheers scattered throughout the hall as families stood to congratulate their new graduates.

The extended family of DeAvion Galtney was one of many that showed up decked out in matching t-shirts ready for a night of celebration following a long road Galtney’s mom described as a “rollercoaster ride.”

“I am trying to not get emotional,” Galtney’s mom Kywana Gibbs said. “She is my only child so this journey to see her finally complete high school is surreal. There were a lot of ups, a lot of downs, but overall I am super proud of her to overcome a lot. We have been through everything.”

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