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The Bell High School Class of 2020 has first ever Senior Parade

By Cindy Jo Ayers
Of course the 2020 pandemic has changed a lot of things, including the graduating ceremony of Bell High School.
This year’s graduation was closed to the general public with each graduate selecting four friends or family members as their special guests.
But the administration at Bell High, lead by Principal Lisa Barry, worked hard to make the 2020 graduation a very memorable one.
For the first time, Seniors participated in a Processional/Parade where each Senior was honored by their family and friends as their vehicle traveled from the North end of Bell to the South end and ended in front of the football stadium.  Some Seniors rode on top of cars or trucks, some rode inside and some rode in the back of pick-ups.  Most of the vehicles in the parade were decorated with the Senior’s photos, balloons and other festive decorations.
Seniors and families left their vehicles and walked onto the football field where they were congratulated from a distance by the Gilchrist County School Board members and Bell Administration.  Each Senior and their guests were seated together in rows of five.
Senior Jillian Cassube lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Principal Lisa Barry welcomed guests.  Principal Barry said to the seniors, “Tonight, the graduates will join a very exclusive group and become Bell High School Alumni.  The roots of Bell High School run deep with tradition and love of community.”
Mrs. Lynette Langford, Teacher of the Year at Bell High, read the names of the Seniors that have attended Bell High School since kindergarten.
Seniors presented their parents and or guest with a flower.
Salutatorian Sara Manders gave her speech which was about the lessons that she had learned while attending Bell High School.  Manders told her fellow Seniors, “Never lose track of who you are.”  She went on to talk about her most important high school years and how thankful she was for her time at Bell High.
Class Salutatorian Sara Manders plans to attend the University of North Florida and attain a Masters in Music Composition, and a Doctoral Degree in Music Performance and then she would like to be a music teacher.
Presley Paulling, the Valedictorian of the BHS Class of 2020, spoke about the priceless memories that their class had made.  Paulling said, “May we never forget this great chapter of our life.  Each of us have made our mark on Bell High School.”
Paulling read the words of the song My Wish by Rascal Flats to the class saying the lyrics from the song contained all the wishes she had for her classmates.
Valedictorian Presley Paulling intends to attend the University of Florida where she will major in Biology and pursue a degree in Medical Research.
Principal Lisa Barry and Superintendent Rankin made their comments to the class, both wishing them well in their future endeavors.
Each Senior’s name was called and they stood and held up their diploma covers while their photo was taken and later they turned their own tassel as a group.
Sara Manders, Class President, made the closing comments and lead everyone in singing the Bell High School Alma Mater.
Each family left the field as their names were called and that ended the 2020 Graduation at Bell High.  It was indeed a little different but also very heartwarming in a special way.