By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
WAYNESBORO — The class that endured a global pandemic during their junior year graduated Waynesboro High School Friday night and Saturday.
Approximately half of The Class of 2021 graduated Friday in an outdoor ceremony at the football field more so resembling a traditional Little Giants graduation ceremony and the other half in smaller ceremonies held inside the school on Saturday.
“[Today is] a celebration of the relationships, character, experiences and responsibility that has developed over your time at Waynesboro Public Schools,” said Waynesboro High Principal Bryan Stamm to the first group of graduates Saturday morning. “As a school system, we’re proud of the young adults you’ve become, and look forward to the bright futures you have in front of you.’
Stamm also thanked family members who attended Saturday morning.
“We recognize that graduation is an achievement of not just a single student but a collective effort of family and the support you’ve shown as parents,” Stamm said.
Savannah Westfaul grew up in the Valley, but spent her junior and senior years at Waynesboro High. She graduated in the Louis Spilman Auditorium at Waynesboro High on Saturday morning.
“I think it was really good. There were a lot of nice kids,” said Westfaul.
She said her two years as a Little Giant had “been really good.”
“It was small, but they made it fun,” Westfaul said of her class’s indoor graduation ceremonies on Saturday.
Kayliah Riedl spent four years at Waynesboro High and graduated on Saturday. She said her two years before the pandemic were good at the school.
“I barely made it, but I made it,” she said of graduating with The Class of 2021.
Remote learning affected Riedl’s grades when she was not as focused on participating in class via Zoom and finishing class assignments at home on her own.
“It was a long road, but we got through it,” said Isaiah Riedl, who is “younger but taller” than his sister. He will be a sophomore in the fall at Waynesboro High while his sister pursues an education at Blue Ridge Community College.
Kayliah Riedl said she is unsure of what major she will study after high school.
Troy Blair said that graduation on Saturday was better than he had imagined, because he had not expected the limit of family and friends per graduate to be 15.
“I’m glad to be partially a part of the original tradition [of high school graduation],” Blair said.
Noah Stewart spent four years at Waynesboro High, and graduated with several peers, family members and friends in the Louis Spilman Auditorium Saturday.
“I loved them,” Stewart said of his years as a Little Giant.
He said he enjoyed having his peers, family and friends with him at a smaller graduation ceremony. His uncles, cousins and friends were also able to come.
“Everybody,” Stewart said.
He added that he had mixed emotions about graduation.
“I’m excited, but I’m also shocked,” he said, because his four years at Waynesboro High went by so quickly.
Stewart will pursue a career as a crane operator for Valley Crane & Rigging Inc. in Augusta County.
“Very nervous. Very happy that I made it,” said Cody Madison Saturday morning of graduating.
Madison was a student at Waynesboro High for four years, and participated in band.
“I’m very proud,” said his mother, Teresa Madison. “He’s done a lot of accomplishments.”
Madison said that her son has a bright future.
Cody Madison plans to attend either Blue Ridge Community College or James Madison University, and study mechanics.