Hoots and hollers, cheers and applause filled Freedom Hall on Saturday morning, with even the occasional scream from the crowd of something like, “nice shoes, Abby!”
Science Hill graduated its 2014 class, putting Johnson City’s biggest school’s graduates into that next stage of their lives.
Boasting some of the area’s best minds, principal Melanie Riden-Bacon didn’t lose a step in putting it all into perspective for this class in the final preparations before graduation occurred.
“Before we go into this, I want to say I love you,” she announced just before giving seniors a chance to use the restrooms before the multiple-hour event.
One of the nearly 500 students graduating this year is Sajant Anand, who will be heading to Wake Forest University in the late summer to pursue a computer science education, hoping to also engage in classes covering physics and math, too.
Anand is one of three National Merit Finalists in the graduating class, making his teachers proud. Guy Maulden, who’s been teaching at the school for over 55 years, said he the students always make him look good for having such bright minds.
“I’ve seen them come and go, and we have some of the best,” Maulden said.
He specifically pointed at the academic achievements of Anand and his fellow 4.0-grade point average student Malea Fenley, who recently had to make the tough call between attending the University of Georgia and Auburn as the first stop in her pursuit of becoming a veterinarian.
Fenley, a six-footer on the ’Toppers famed girls basketball team, joked that she’s not used to wearing heels to make her even taller.
Looking back at her time at Science Hill, she said holding herself to that 4.0 GPA standard was often tough, especially during the sport-heavy times of the year.
“I’ve taken a lot of hard classes, which has been really hard,” she said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself, especially during basketball season.”
Fenley spoke about long study sessions during the season that sometimes gave her just three hours of sleep, but wouldn’t change a thing. This past year, the Lady ’Toppers only lost one game during the season, the one which would have propelled them farther into the postseason, but it’s the one game that stays with her and her class and teammates.
She joked that they won something like 31 games over the span and don’t remember much about those as much as that one loss, but that’s the nature of high school sports.
She said she was excited that a cousin of hers was going to be in attendance at her graduation, all the way over from Japan.
Anand also had family at his big day. His sisters, a graduate and soon-to-be graduate of Wake Forest, are aiming to be lawyers, something that he considered, too, but ultimately decided that he wanted to go another route with his career.
Anand says he’s spoken with many graduates of the past who said their high school education prepared them well for a transition into college. He’s made the best of his time at the school, he said, playing lots of Frisbee with friends as well as building robots on the school’s robotics team.
Moving forward, he said this summer will be the last one in a while where he’ll have free time, so he plans to make the most of it.
“This is going to be my last summer of freedom,” he said.
Riden-Bacon said this class had tallied something like $12,000,000 in scholarships and was filled with countless impressive features, from sports accolades to the way they treat their fellow students. She capped the day reciting something often heard at equally energetic school functions.
“We are Science Hill!”
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