By Tim Gardner
Avery High’s 2022 graduation ceremonies will be held the evening of Thursday, May 26 at picturesque McRae Meadows near Grandfather Mountain in Linville. Graduation will commence at 5:00 p.m. Seniors are requested to arrive at McRae Meadows no later than 3:30 p.m. on May 26. Gates will open for families of those graduating at 4:00 p.m. Families and other guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs to sit in during graduation ceremonies, although there will a limited supply of chairs available at McRae Meadows.
This will mark the third consecutive year and only the third in its 54-year history that Avery County High School will not hold its graduation ceremony on its campus in Newland. In 2020, it was held off-campus because of the State of North Carolina’s social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, they were held at a neutral site due to a lack of parking and related problems because of the ongoing construction facilities and renovations at the high school. This year, they are being held at a neutral site because of renovations and installation of a new artificial playing surface at MacDonald Stadium, the football and soccer home of the Avery High Vikings.
According to Avery High Principal Ricky Ward, there are 127 graduating seniors in the Class of 2021, including 15 who are mid-term graduates. The latter graduated earlier this spring after fulfilling the academic criteria to earn a graduation diploma. The remaining 112 will have fulfilled those same requirements by May 26.
Avery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman offered the following statement to the High Country Press about the 2022 Avery County High School Graduation: “Congratulations to each upcoming graduate in the Class of 2022! We (school system) are very proud of their accomplishments and wish each senior well as they conclude their Kindergarten -12 education and enter the next stages in life beyond high school. We lift each graduate up in prayer for their success, good health and happiness. May God continue to bless the Class of 2022!”
The school system received approval again this year from Jesse Pope, Executive Director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, to use McRae Meadows for the graduation ceremony.
“We are excited to celebrate our seniors and their accomplishments and we appreciate Grandfather Mountain for allowing us to use such a beautiful location for our graduation ceremony,” Ward said.
Brigman expressed his “deepest of appreciation to Jesse Pope and his wonderful staff at Grandfather Mountain” for the special accommodation.
In case of rain on May 26, the graduation ceremony will be moved to the school’s gymnasium, Ward noted.
Avery County High School officials along with its faculty and students serving on its planning committee have been ironing out the details of the graduation for weeks.
Ward added that it will be a traditional ceremony with no Coronavirus (COVID) restrictions or required facial mask or related coverings required.