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Parents, students celebrate Lexington's Class of 2021, honor late superintendent

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Posted at 4:31 PM, May 19, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — No amount of planning, even 13 years worth, can get you ready to handle the emotions of the procession music, or seeing your kid grab his/her high school diploma.

“I’ve already struggled a few times this morning, so to see him walk across the stage is going to be emotional,” said Chris Plumer, whose son graduated from Henry Clay High School on Wednesday morning.

“In the blink of an eye, it’s here,” Mr. Plummer added.

And it was all here inside Rupp Arena for in-person ceremonies, which given the last 15 months didn’t seem likely.

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“It’s wonderful! Great that I’m able to see my friends, go talk to them in person, and experience all of this with them,” Miykal Bates said. Bates also got his diploma from Henry Clay.

The members of this graduating class had portions of their junior and senior years taken away by the pandemic. Fayette County went to virtual learning last spring and remained in that mode until this spring. It’s been a long, hard year for these kids, but as Henry Clay’s class president said, it gave them the kind of willpower and discipline they never had or needed before.

“It’s a blessing. Truly a blessing. God is good and I’m glad to be here and able to move on with life and chase my dreams,” said graduating senior, Gabrielle Cowan.

Today’s 2 pm ceremony (there are six total over the course of two days), was emotional for district employees too. Superintendent Manny Caulk died in December, and it was during that ceremony when the district presented its first Manny Caulk Memorial Scholarship Award to Frederick Douglass graduate, Azaria Howard.

“I’m emotional right now, but so grateful. It’s been a rough road with the pandemic and going through everything. But I made it through, and I’m just so blessed and thankful,” Howard said after receiving the scholarship worth $2,500.

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The first Manny Caulk Memorial Scholarship Award recipient, Azaria Howard.

Caulk’s family funded previous scholarships using stipend money Mr. Caulk received after being named Kentucky Superintendent of the Year in 2019.

Howard, whose mother passed away in December of 2016, will be concentrating on Business Administration while attending Tennessee State University beginning in the fall.

“She’d have been really proud,” Howard added.