GREENBRIER — The 2012 graduating class of Greenbrier High School moved their tassels from right to left to signify a milestone in their lives promptly at 8:15 p.m. Friday evening. The Farris Center at UCA was filled to capacity as 203 excited seniors made that traditional entry march to the well known "Pomp and Circumstance."
Jennifer Church directed the Greenbrier High band for this special event. It was played at a brisk and smiling, quite happy pace as the students entered between the traditional two lines of teachers and faculty cheering them on as they came in. Some teachers had a tear in their eye as special students walked by and others gave a high five, a friendly slap on the back, or a thumbs up. Family and friends in the filled-to-capacity crowd cheered and everyone was thrilled to meet these very special graduates.
And special they are, being the highest achieving class in the history of Greenbrier High School. Jennifer Nulsen was recognized as their first National Merit Scholar. The 2012 Class was recognized with about five million dollars worth of college scholarships — the most ever. Many scholarships were awarded by schools from all over the country "which saved taxpayers about one half million dollars in tuition fees," said George Roberts, alumnus, businessman, and guest speaker who inducted the graduates. A full 25 percent of the class was Honor Students, Highest Honor Students (AP Scholars with 3 or higher on 3 or more AP exams), or AP Scholars with Honors meaning they had a 3.25 or higher on 4 or more AP exams. There were a full thirty-four pages of honors, scholarships, and awards given to these classmates at the honors program held at the school the day before. The traditional Panther blue and white robes were decorated with gold cords for the Honor graduates and gold cords with gold medallions for the Highest Honor graduates.
The opening prayer was given by Dylan Singleton, Highest Honor student, followed by a special song from the play, Wicked, sung by the Greenbrier High School choir under the direction of Jordan Bennett. Jonathon Logan, a class favorite, played guitar and sang his own special composition. National Merit Scholar Nulson also played an original piano piece.
As Principal Susan Jackson presented the Class of 2012, she said, "It is especially bittersweet to see these bright and talented people move on. We shall miss them." Then the graduates heard their names called by Assistant Principal Tommy Reed and their diplomas were handed to them by School Board members Randy Goodnight and Carla Fix. A special poignant moment came when Jamie Rundel stood away from her wheel chair and walked the whole length of the stage. She had only recently been able to walk since a serious car accident in 2010. Everyone — audience and graduates — stood up clapping and cheering her on to get her diploma.
The following students graduated with Highest Honors: Nicole Atkinson, Matthew Burgess, Reid Cone, Bryce Daniels, Cassidy Desalvo, Reagan Fix, Sarah Garvey, Bailey Gifford, Abigail Graham, Misti Hollenbaugh, Abbey Holley, Megan Lequieu, Sarah Lewter, Jordan Logan, Cody Macomber, Weston Moore, Joseph Oluokun, Hannah Porter, Chase Roberts, Devin Rust, Dylan Singleton, Alexandria Stringer, Jordan Thornton, Miles Wassner, and William Yandell.
Honor Graduates are: Branden Acre, Heather Bound, Spencer Cardin, Scott Cavin, Carlee Clifton, Kyle Clifton, Joshua Cummins, Evan Giblet, Sarah Hammontree, John Harrell III, Annedella Hines, Amber Hurt, Hayden Kremers, Colton Latimer, Kailey Madden, Patrick McKay, Brandi Morgan, Bethany Patton, Alexandria Rowden, Laura Shock, Jacob Somers, Samantha Jo Tillman, and Haley Younker.
Once the benediction was spoken, wild celebration broke out as the graduates did the traditional thing and tossed their caps high into the ceiling of the Farris Center. Hugs and congratulations were seen all around as families surrounded their sons and daughters and classmates to wish them well.