Black was a junior at Ringgold High School and a nominee of National Honor Society. Taylor Stephens, Black’s cousin (and former Ringgold student), stepped forward in her honor to light her induction candle. Two other cousins, Casey and Haley Stephens, were also present. Upon request by her junior classmates, Black will also be honored next year when the class attends the same ceremony to receive their stoles as seniors, and Black’s stole will be given to family members as a keepsake.
Sharon Vaughn, principal of Ringgold High School and guest speaker, elaborated on the four qualities of society members: scholarship, service, leadership and character, and described Black as having an abundance of each quality. Vaughn also praised the students for their perseverance during the aftermath of the disaster and said this year’s ceremony would possibly mean more to this group than any other.
“We can give up, or we can rely on these four things. When your back is against the wall, and you have to use energy you don’t have and heart you can’t find, your character will show,” said Vaughn.
Juniors each light a candle from an officer’s candle to symbolize induction into the society. Parents of senior students are then presented with a stole, which they in turn place around the student’s shoulders, to be worn later over their graduation gowns.
An elaborate reception followed in the fellowship hall after the ceremony. Vaughn explained that in lieu of the planned reception that was to take place after graduation on the Ringgold High School football field this year, event coordinators from her staff suggested two separate receptions, one after the National Honor Society ceremony and one after the baccalaureate ceremony. Ringgold High School seniors will be graduating May 27 at 8 p.m. at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s McKenzie Arena this year due to the extensive tornado damage to the school property.
“The receptions were a wonderful idea. I haven’t seen the children smiling and laughing and being normal like that since we left school,” said Vaughn. “They were finally in a peaceful setting that wasn’t surrounded by anything broken or destroyed. That’s what we wanted for them. It was beautiful to see Ringgold together again”.
Ringgold’s baccalaureate service will be held Sunday, May 22, at 2 p.m. at Parkway Baptist Temple in Fort Oglethorpe with the reception to follow.