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Trion City Schools Seniors Class of 2020 finally had a graduation exercise on Friday evening. Susan McCain is a retired educator who spent 49 years – 20 for TCS as an English teacher – in the classroom. Now two years retired, she was on the sidelines helping to organize the event that was held yesterday evening.

“We usually host graduation in our gymnasium, and it has been there for many, many years,” McCain recalled. “But this year, they moved the ceremony to the field, and we have not hosted graduation on the field since the 1970s. Due to distancing guidelines, it was decided that this was the safest way. The ceremony is also scheduled for later in the year and later in the day. Two of our students have already left for basic training, because they joined the military right after their senior year was finished, so there are many things we have changed.”

McCain said that she has been assisting with graduation for over 15 years, and she does so because of her strong connection to the community and her love for all TCS students.

“Our two military students received their diplomas this summer,” said McCain. “Dr. (Phil) Williams, our Superintendent, and high school principal Bryan Edge had a small ceremony for them over the summer. I graduated from Trion City Schools on this field, so seeing our Class of 2020 graduates here brings back so many memories for me. I just love this school and I love these students. They are all so special and I am so fortunate to be able to watch them grow into the wonderful adults we all know they will be.”

McCain was responsible for helping three Trion High graduates prepare their addresses to their classmates. She said their remarks range from funny memories to heartfelt feelings about their school and classmates. The overall tone of all three speeches is hope, and a renewed appreciation for learning and the opportunities they were afforded because they chose Trion as their educational home.

Ginger Hutchins has served the system as an administrative assistant for 21 years. Since joining her Bulldog Family, she has been heavily involved in the planning of Trion High’s graduation ceremonies.

“Things have been quite different this year,” Hutchins said, “and we really didn’t know what we were going to do for a while. I am so happy and proud to say that our plans really came together when we decided to move graduation here to our football field. Now, we can handle the social distancing guidelines, and we are hoping that the weather will cooperate with us. We have 112 graduates this year, and minus our two military students, we will host 110 graduates on our field.”

“I think our students are excited,” McCain said when asked about the way her students have responded to finally reaching this milestone in their lives. “We initially thought that many of our students would be on vacation or participating in other activities like preparing for college. But the response and support from our families has been amazing to see. Our goal is to make sure they are happy and safe. We strive to provide exactly what they need to improve their lives as they leave us and head out to change the world. I love them all and wish them the absolute best.”

Mary Searels, High School Guidance Counselor and System Test Coordinator was also heavily involved in preparing graduates for their big day. She took a few moments away from directing the children over the stadium PA to offer her wishes for the THS Class of 2020.

“The Class of 2020 has met the challenges of this pandemic,” Searels said as she looked out onto the ocean of Bulldogs ready to take one of the most important walks of their lives. “They have demonstrated creativity, resilience and commitment to their future. They have shown courage with grace.

“But the challenge is not over,” she continued. “They will undoubtedly face many more in life. Now they will be able to look back to the lessons of strength and honor learned in their senior year at Trion High School and will boldly embrace their future. Godspeed, Class of 2020.”

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