MONROE, GA (May 26, 2023) – Saturday, May 20, 2023 was a special day at Monroe Country Day School – its first ever graduation. Five graduates, seven years after making history when the school first open its doors, were the first to reach their final year of high school and graduate. Monroe County Day School began teaching young students in 2016 at 603 S. Broad St. in the former Johnston Academy school building,
School director, Dr. Rita Dickinson, founded Monroe Country Day School in 2015 as a school where “experienced faculty nurture, guide and encourage students to achieve academic excellence and social responsibility.” When the school outgrew its accommodations, the high school students moved into the church building behind it. In 2020, when the growth of the school looked to spread a little too thin – especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic – the school moved to its current location, the former Monroe Community Center on Church Street. The building had already once served as an earlier school for the community. That is where the graduation ceremony took place on Saturday.
Photo gallery credits: Monroe Country Day School and Sharon Swanepoel – first photo graduates, from left: Keith Mayfield, Zak Kirkman, Gavin Hennigan, Chris Greene and Eli Yeater.
In their cap and gowns, Chris Greene, Eli Yeater, Gavin Hennigan, Keith Mayfield and Zak Kirkman took to the stage. Dickinson had difficulty controlling her emotions and her pride in their accomplishments was very apparent. Each student took their place in conducting the ceremony – Gavin gave the invocation, Keith led the salute to the flag, Zak presented the senior gift to Dickinson, and Salutatorian Eli and Valedictorian Chris, gave their addresses. As assistant director Pam Arnold wrote in her column prior to the graduation ceremony, “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, classes.”
Board Member Melinda Quinn shared photographs of some of the graduates seven years ago when the school first opened, noting that Chris and Gavin were not in the photograph as they came during the year not at the beginning and Zac was in a separate grade, so he is in the second photograph as he skipped a grade. The other two photographs are some of the graduates during their years at the school.
“All five were students from first school year, 2016,” Quinn said. “Eli was salutatorian and he is employed full time by the City of Monroe. He finished his credits in December and was hired soon after.”
These first five students have bought the school to its first full circle in the seven years since first opening the door – the first 12th grade class culminating in its first graduation ceremony. This significant growth is an indication of school’s staying power from those small first year early grade classes to a school that now caters to students from Pre-K to 12th grade with more than 100 students enrolled.
See a digital tribute to this historical event as director and founder, Dr. Rita Dickinson, gives her address at this link.
Editor’s Disclaimer: The author of this story, Sharon Swanepoel, is a board member of Monroe Country Day School.
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