COVINGTON — Newton High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian Israel Dixon told his classmates during virtual graduation ceremonies that he’s convinced they were all chosen for this time.

“The Lord made our class special,” said Dixon, who will be headed to the United States Military Academy at West Point and will commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. “You know how I know? Think about it; most all of us were born during the time of another tragedy — the aftermath of 9/11. Fast forward 18 years and we are graduating during a historic time of uncertainty. This is no fluke at all. There is no doubt in my mind that the Class of 2020 was made for great things. The Lord has put us through these trials and tribulations because he knows we will overcome. We have the resiliency to push through and to be greater than our obstacles.”

Salutatorian Eliana Lewis, who plans to attend Howard University, a historically black college, and major in English education, spoke on the importance of having the courage as she and her fellow graduates embark on a new phase of their lives.

“Nelson Mandela once said that ‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear,’” said Lewis. “This was true when he said it many years ago, and it remains true today. Leaving the comfort and safety of home, of the familiar, and going out into the unknown world today is indeed scary. We made it through the challenges of high school, and with the continued network of support that have now, and will continue to build on throughout the years we can flourish and grow. Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from what could be. Be courageous, be fearless, be you!”

Principal Dr. Shannnon Buff recalled March 13, the last day students attended school on campus this year, and noted that that day taught a powerful lesson: “Do not depend on having tomorrow,” she said. “Things that seemed so important were quickly placed into perspective. I challenge you to use that powerful perspective to live your life to the fullest, enyoy each and every day, do good, serve others and treat each person the way you wish to be treated. Continue to be respecful accountable, motivatetd and successful.”

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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