“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

grad sunset

It is graduation season in every corner of the country. Here in our sweet, southern small town, the caps and gowns are pressed, shoes are shined and diplomas are signed. The graduates are preparing to take that ceremonial walk across the field to receive the reward  they have worked so hard to achieve. It occurs to us that graduation is the perfect intersection of the past, present and future.

So often graduation is thought of as an end, and in a tender way, it is. It marks the end of a journey that began when these graduates were just learning to tie their shoe laces. The tooth fairy was still busy at work, finger painting was considered a fine art and toothpaste was still flavored like bubble gum.

cute kids feetThrough all the years and memories that have passed since that first day of kindergarten, these seniors have given their best to make it to this day. During this time, it’s natural to look back and remember with fondness the memories made and the lessons learned. To the seniors, it is important to hold dear the part of the walk you’ve been on since that day so long ago at your first elementary school. It is an important part of the journey. But now is the time to turn your face upward, take a deep breath and step into the beginning of the next season of your walk.

Commencement – it is a word that literally means “a beginning or start.” The commencement ceremony is the celebration of your new beginning.

To the seniors,  you are truly beginning a new chapter in your young lives. As you look to the future, be filled with hope, encouragement and confidence. Make no mistake – you have been prepared for this moment. You are about to go into the world to make a difference. It is certain that the world needs bright, enthusiastic and responsible leaders who are able and willing to make a positive difference in the world. Be the change you want to see. Be the good in the world. Follow your dreams, and become who you were created to be.

The commencement address will be given by two seniors from the group of Honor Graduates. The speakers this year are Deborah Fontanez and Cailtin Christopher.

graduates 2There are 215 graduates in the AHS Class of 2017. Of this class, 194 are going on to university or other postsecondary institution. At the top of the class, there are 24 honor graduates who all share the rank of number one. AHS is proud to have 52 seniors graduating as members in good standing with the National Honor Society along with 82 Beta Club graduates. Seven AHS graduates have received athletic scholarships and are going on to play sports at the collegiate level.

While we are all sure to tear up when we hear “Pomp and Circumstance” begin for the seniors’ march, we can take great joy in the fact that our tears are full of happy remembrance, hope, faith and promise for the future.

The Class of 2017 quote is “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” – Saint (Mother) Teresa.

We believe in you and cannot wait to see the great things you are going to do.

And so the adventure begins. To our graduates, go live your beautiful dream.

AHS graduate Sheldon Holmes on Senior Awards Day

All About the Class of 2017

Honor Graduates

Honor Graduates are Athens High School seniors with a GPA of a 4.0 or above who have earned the Advanced Diploma at AHS. They all share a rank of #1. The Class of 2017 presents 24 Honor Graduates:

Morgan Elizabeth Alexander
Sydnee Clare Bennett
Johnny Mack Benson III
Braxton Burlingame Brand
Caitlin Collins Christopher
Cinnamin Christina Cross
Sloane Mackenzie Daley
Deborah Rachel Fontanez
Marshall Edward Henke
Maryssa Brooke Hill
Molly Frances Kilpatrick
Celia Shae Malone
Dalton Blaine McKinney
Hannah Marie Morris
Paige Elizabeth Parker
Stephen Thomas Phraner
Grayce Ann Richards
Ramsey Brooke Scott
Anna Grace Sharp
Robert Benjamin Smith
Grant Wade Taylor
Olivia Christian Tease
Kaitlyn Mae Watkins
Jewellian Victoria Welcher

College Athletics Scholars

Seven AHS graduates are going on to play sports at the college level. The 2016-1017 athletics signings with scholarships are:

Tori Patterson Softball Snead State
Kaitlyn Scruggs Softball Calhoun
Mallory Underwood Swimming University of Alabama
Jerry Foster Football University of North Alabama
Audra Davis Soccer University of North Alabama
Lavendar Bailey Track University of West Alabama
Dalton Pack Baseball Martin Methodist College

Who’s Who Awards

There is another special tradition among senior classes that has gone on for decades across the country. Some schools call them senior superlatives. The word superlative means “of the highest quality or degree.” At AHS, they are called the “Who’s Who Awards.” They are intended to be fun, plain and simple. The votes are in, and we are pleased to present the Class of 2017 Who’s Who Awards.

Class Favorite
Grant Taylor
Cinnamin Cross

Most Likely to be Late for Graduation
Parker Hubbard
Presley Pullum

Most Charitable
Dalton McKinney
Natalie Albritton

Early Bird
Caleb Carrol
Mallory Underwood

Most Likely to be on Broadway
Kevian Battles
Kennedi Brown

Musically Talented
Bryan Smith
Maryssa Hill

Most Intellectual
Johnny Benson
Deborah Fontanez

Most Likely to Succeed

Stephen Phraner
Morgan Alexander

School Spirit
Austen Willard
Sheldon Holmes

Most Athletic
Kiah Rice
Barbara Anderson

Jon Kiep
Hope Griffin

Best Dressed
Thornton Garvin
Caitlin Christopher and Kaitlyn Scruggs

Most Artistic
Tabias Watkins
Hadley Gilmore and Sloane Daley

Biggest Procrastinator
Mikey McCostlin
Mallory Noah

Most Outgoing
Braeden Hodges
Paige Parker

Class Clown
Jerry Foster
Claire Robinson and Japera Harris

Best Hair
Darren Tang
Olivia Tease

Most Likely to Become a Meme
Simon Crowell
Rachel Shearon


A time honored tradition associated with graduation is baccalaureate. Baccalaureate is a celebration that honors graduates. Historically, baccalaureate was a service with a sermon for the graduating seniors. This year’s AHS baccalaureate service was held Sunday, May 7th at AMS. Traditionally, it is organized by local churches, Mrs. Ramona Malone and Mr. Ron Oakley. Students signed up to sing, read scripture, dance and more. Baccalaureate is a special time to reflect on the years past and contemplate the adventure and opportunity that lies ahead as they begin their adult lives.

More Fun Facts About the Class of 2017hibiscus

Class Color: Black
Class Flower: Hibiscus
Listen to the Class Song: “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons

Class Quote: “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”- Saint (Mother) Teresa


The Athens High School graduation and commencement ceremony is Friday, May 19, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at Athens High School’s Golden Eagle Stadium.

Athens Renaissance School Graduation

On May 18 at McCandless Hall on the campus of Athens State University, Athens Renaissance School is beginning its own tradition. This spring, ARS will celebrate their first ever graduation ceremony and commencement for their seniors.

Of the 26 graduates, 22 will be participating in the ceremony. The majority of these students are blended. One student is even traveling from Moody, Alabama to attend. Some ARS families are making a weekend of the event, arriving as early as Wednesday and spending some time in the town that will bear the name of their student’s alma mater.

These proud ARS graduates will wear a black cap and gown with a monogrammed gold stole presenting the initials ARS. The Reverend Kenny Baskins of Athens First United Methodist Church will deliver the commencement address. Courtney Franklin, a graduating ARS senior, will give a short motivational address. Mr. Ryan Nix from Athens High School will perform “Pomp and Circumstance”, the traditional graduation march music.

As this is the inaugural graduation ceremony for ARS, there has been a visceral response from parents and students. Said Dr. Joanna May, “They are beyond excited. It has been a true joy to watch their excitement as they finish their courses and move toward making their graduation dreams a reality!”

As a community connected by education, we commend the leadership at ARS for embracing this time-honored tradition and working to incorporate it into the student experience.




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