Graduation: A job well done at Monroe Country Day School

Guest Column by Pam Arnold of Monroe County Day School - the Walton Tribune

Graduation is here. There is no denying it! It is in plain sight…everywhere!

Lots of Seniors will be graduating in our community in the closing days of May. I cannot believe it has been forty years since my very own high school graduation from Berrien High School down in South Georgia. Forty Years! The Class of 1983, destined to change the world much like the Class of 2023 in more ways than one could imagine. Yes, the basic idea of graduation, along with ceremonies, speeches, celebrations and traditions, remains the same no matter what year you graduate.

There may be a little more bling and extravagance these days, but the pride and sense of empowerment will always be present. Driving around our beautiful towns and country roads here in Walton County, you can’t help but notice all the colorful banners and signs
parents have proudly placed on lawns and subdivision entrances to announce their child’s commencement. A simple stroll through Facebook or Instagram, you see the proud faces of Seniors in their caps and gowns and highlight reels of these same seniors on their final walks through the halls of their former elementary and middle schools, complete with teary eyed former teachers.

Collecting your mail the past three weeks, if you’re an educator such as myself, you have probably received a half dozen or more graduation announcements from former students who fondly remember copying and memorizing the periodic table in your science class, reading The Giver in your ELA class, or that awesome field trip to Fernbank, the one where you fell down the stairs in the darkened 3-D theater and a bad word slipped out.

Graduation is the perfect time for students to reflect on their past years in school and identify those true teaching moments that may have brought them joy and helped shape them into who they are. Graduation brings out all the feels, all the smiles, and the affirmation that all is well. Perhaps you’ve penned a few cards or letters to family members or friends who are graduating. These young graduates appreciate your words of encouragement and praise for the hard work put forth the past twelve years and acknowledgment of achieving one set of goals and establishing another set. Affirmation is a gentle reminder that people in your circle genuinely care about you. I think it is one secret to impending success. I mean, who doesn’t need to be uplifted?

Graduation is an especially significant time for Monroe Country Day School this year as we conduct our very first commencement ceremony with five young men receiving diplomas from our accredited institution. Dr. (Rita) Dickinson and I have been eagerly planning the graduation ceremony with our high school coordinator, Ms. Paige Hood. Caps and gowns were ordered, programs designed, final grades averaged, and speeches
written. Our beautiful school on Church Street will transform itself into a formal hall where family and friends of the graduating class will gather to witness history made as this inaugural class accepts their diplomas and tosses their caps high into the air. Graduates
will walk in a processional to pomp and circumstance, listen to a few speeches, and then turn those tassels thus officially becoming alumni of MCDS! Isn’t that exciting?

To prepare our students for success in college, a career, and life, we use innovative instructional approaches that provide students with a rigorous and relevant curriculum which aligns with college and career paths students may choose.

Our very first Valedictorian is Chris Greene who will also graduate with an Associates Degree from Athens Tech this summer; our Salutatorian is Eli Yeater who will also graduate with an Associates Degree from Athens Tech this summer. Our other three graduates, Gavin Hennigan, Keith Mayfield, and Zak Kirkman, have participated in the
Dual Enrollment program, Work-Based Learning Program, and in-person, as well as digital,

We are excited to recognize the achievements of these bright young men who represent Monroe Country Day School’s first ever graduating class and are anxiously awaiting the next chapter of their lives. We are confident that each student will carve their own path and do phenomenal things to make MCDS proud.

And before you know it, it will be 2063, and these kiddos will be celebrating their 40th high school reunion!

Pam Arnold is the assistant director and upper school instructor for the Monroe Country Day School. She can be reached at

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