David Crockett High School Principal Andrew Hare recognizes the adversity faced by the batch of students graduating Saturday morning compared to their predecessors.
“This is the group that really led the charge in the Drive For 5,” Hare said.
They took the challenge and ran with it, he said, getting their score up from a one to a four in the matter of about one year. The score is from the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System, and really hit the school hard when it scored so low two years ago. The lowest lows weren’t followed by the highest of highs, but Hare recognizes a quick rebound score of four as a step in the right direction.
When more than 260 DCHS students walked the stage Saturday, they were carrying with them the honor of getting their school back on track academically.
Looking forward, Hare is proud of the students he’s putting out into the world.
“The real world is out there asking for the best, and that’s what they’re getting with this class,” Hare said.
And that’s not to say the graduates are going far away from East Tennessee. Hare said he was proud to see so many staying in the area, and likes what he’s heard about students sticking around to give back to the community in which they were raised. Milligan College, East Tennessee State University and Tusculum College were the choices of many of DCHS’ graduates, he said, and that’s not because of their credentials — several were accepted to schools like Wake Forest and Vanderbilt, but passed up on those offers to stay locally.
This is evident in the post-high school decisions of two Pioneer graduates, James Allen and Kellye Tolliver.
Tolliver, who’s worked at Barberitos as a cashier as she’s attended college classes at Northeast State Community College, plans on continuing that route moving forward. She wants to pile up her money and live at home for a little while with the goal of landing her own apartment around Johnson City to make her pursuit of a degree in computer science a little easier.
“I like working with computers and with coding,” she said about what she wants to do in the future.
Looking back on her experience at DCHS, Tolliver said the learning part was one of her favorite aspects of going to school every day, as well as seeing her friends. That being said, she admits to not testing as well as she learns overall, calling the condition somewhat of a “test phobia.”
Having parents in the building could either be considered an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the student, but Tolliver said because her parents are both teachers at Crockett, with her mom teaching English and her dad in the math department, she likes the feeling. It also has had its other advantages.
“Plus I don’t have to drive,” she joked.
Allen also has aspirations to stick around the area, but only after completing his education in the field of medicine, he said. Though he hasn’t yet picked a major, he said he’d like to pursue biology and ultimately become a doctor. Like his principal said, Allen really wants to stick around so he can help the place he calls home.
“I could see myself sticking around here,” he said. “This is where my heart is.”
He said he’s been able to, like Tolliver, take several advanced classes while holding on to a distinction of staying in the top 10 percent of his class.
Though there will be parties and functions with family and friends, Allen said he’s going to work as much as he can, in excess of 40 hours a week this summer at both Krispy Kreme and at the cafeteria at the Wetlands Waterpark in Jonesborough. To sum up his high school experience, he said it’s made him the person he is, but he’s looking at using it as a transition to higher learning.
“I’ve made a lot of friends, had a lot of experiences, and of course ups and downs,” Allen said. “But they made me who I am, and I’m proud of who I am.”
Daniel Boone High School also held commencement Saturday morning, with Annabel Li Large earning the distinction of class valedictorian and Andrew Crockett Gray, Abigail Olivia Howe, Noah Robert Parker, Skyla Brooke Renner and Andrew Bradford Street as class salutatorians.
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