SWOOPE — In March of their freshman year, the Buffalo Gap Class of 2023 learned how quickly everything can change.
As the 104 graduating class members celebrated on Saturday morning among their friends and family, recently-retired assistant principal Jennifer Rexrode commended the students for overcoming difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic throwing out normalcy for large portions of their education.
“You learned to be grateful for little things, to cherish each other, and to be kind to one another,” Rexrode said. “You learned to hold onto special relationships formed with friends and family because many of you were dealing with hard realities caused by the times.”
The students navigated through obstacles affecting classrooms nationwide, like hybrid schedules, social distancing, and the shifting of sports schedules. But Rexrode pointed to the homecoming dance of the student’s junior year as a definitive moment for the class.
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The dance was being held on the tennis courts outside. When the rain came in the middle of the dance, it seemed like another wrench had been thrown into the student’s high school careers. But, in what Rexrode called ‘typical class of 2023 fashion,’ the Bison kept dancing.
“Go out into this big world and teach others how we do it here at Buffalo Gap,” Rexrode said. “Go out and teach others how we dance in the rain.”
Class valedictorian Jacob Kyle praised the teachers, administrators, and family members that helped the graduates along the way. Kyle encouraged his classmates as they parted ways after leaving the daily community found in the hallways of Buffalo Gap High School.
“Even though we didn’t get the complete experience due to COVID, I felt the incident brought us closer together in the long run, even if it separated us by at least six feet,” Kyle said. “Though I’ll be going to a different school — the University of Virginia — and most of you will be going to different schools, we will always be a part of this Bison family.”
Jackson LaPorte, the class of 2023 salutatorian, congratulated his peers for their years of hard work.
“We are leaving the building that helped us become who we are today,” LaPorte said. “At Buffalo Gap High School, I made friends and memories I will cherish forever.”