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Showing Panther pride till the end

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By Erin Hill

West Gadsden High School’s gymnasium reached maximum capacity last Friday evening, as several hundred people came out to watch the last senior class walk across the stage. The huge crowd of family members erupted in applauses and cheers when the Panther Class of 2017 began to march into the gym at 6:00p.m.
    The program was launched with the posting of colors by the JROTC and a general welcome by graduating seniors Jessica Jimenez, and Araceli Najera. Following the graduation’s prerequisites both the Salutatorian Russell Harrison Jr., and the Valedictorian Tahir Montgomery evening, as several hundred people came out to watch the last senior class walk across the stage. The huge crowd of family members and love ones erupted in applauses and cheers, when the Panther Class of 2017 began to march into the gym at 6 p.m.
Among the 62 graduates were several who earned merit designations, scholar designations, and industry certifications. This class also included eight early graduates.
The program was launched with the posting of colors by the JROTC and a general welcome by graduating seniors Jessica Jimenez and Araceli Najera.
Following the ceremony’s prerequisites, both Salutatorian Russell Harrison Jr., and the Valedictorian Tahir Montgomery spoke from their hearts as they addressed their classmates.
Harrison talked about the importance of enjoying the moment: “Many of us will go our separate ways, but we will always have our memories to hold on to. You never get a second chance to relive, so enjoy the moment.”
Before delivering his speech, Montgomery’s told the audience he experienced some difficulty while trying to decide what to say, but in the end he simply decided to talk about what he wanted to. This young man’s address was filled with advice for his fellow graduates:  “Have fun and live life. Use the next level of life to do the things that you want to do, and be happy.”
The honesty in these scholars’ addresses was refreshing, and throughout both speeches, the seniors cheered and smiled in agreement.
In addition to academic success these young men were also successful athletes. Both Harrison and Montgomery are a part of this year’s historic football team, and Harrison is also a member of the Panther’s 1A State Championship basketball team.
The keynote speaker for this commencement was Judge Kathy Garner. Judge Garner spoke on her humble beginnings in Gadsden County. “I was born in the soil of Gadsden County, I grew up in a wooden framed house. She also shared some of her life experiences with the scholars. “I was told by a professor that I wouldn’t make it through law school. If you take one step in faith God will make the next one. Don ‘t let anyone determine your worth.”
The other speakers for this commencement were Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young, Gadsden Schools Superintendent Roger Milton, Gadsden County Commission Chairwoman Sherrie Taylor and Pastor Kenneth Barrington.  
After the retiring of colors by the JROTC, the visibly happy graduates marched out of the gym and cemented the moment as the final senior class of West Gadsden High School.
Congrats to the West Gadsden Class of 2017!