Words from Dr. Jim Finch, Mary Persons High School Principal:

Congratulations to the 90th graduating class of Mary Persons High School! Today, July 31, 2020 is the day that represents a change in you. Thankfully, you are graduating in a community that supports and believes in a strong education. Make sure that you go forth from today and present yourselves as responsible and productive members of society. 

 I don’t know if there is anything I can say that can explain the crazy times that we are living in. I think everyone present tonight acknowledges your loss of so many traditions that go along with being a graduating senior: spring sports season, prom, senior week activities, countdown to senior exams and the last day of school for seniors, and then, finally, graduation. 

 Since our shutdown on March 12, we’ve had a lot of time to reflect and acknowledge the things that we always took for granted. Going to school, going to church, going out to eat, going to parties, to the movies, congregating in large crowds...these were all things that we took for granted. We have a new normal that we follow in order to slow down the spread of this disease that has shut us down, limited our mobility, and has changed the way we conduct our lives. We took for granted the 6000 people who used to fill this stadium to witness our graduation ceremonies. Looking in here tonight there is about one-fourth of that. At any rate, what you need to know is there are those who scoff and dismiss the dangers of COVID-19. And there are those who are downright fearful of it. Wherever you fall on the spectrum is exactly where your risk assessment says you should be. We all have to consider that risk and its impact on our lives and the lives of our loved ones. My encouragement to you is to go about your life in a cautious manner and do it without fear, but at least acknowledge that it will be a long time before we see what used to be considered normal.

The time in this shutdown has also afforded us the opportunity to examine and consider what social justice looks like in 2020. Many are comparing the year 2020 to 1968, the height of the civil rights movement. The content we see on our TV’s, social media, and live streams are filled with incidents that are very alarming and they certainly give us pause for consideration of how minorities, particularly African-Americans, are treated in today’s America. Every issue in today’s world is politicized and publicized to a sickening degree. So, regardless of your race, your political beliefs and regardless of where you align on the political spectrum, the challenge that I have for you as you go forth from tonight is to think for yourself, consider your own beliefs and value system, and then live your life treating people the way you want them to treat you. Because regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, left wing or right wing, there is no doubt of where you should fall on the spectrum of right and wrong. If there’s one thing I think you should know by now is the difference between what is right and what is wrong and to have the courage to stand for what is right, even when it means standing alone. In the 25th chapter of Matthew, Jesus refers to this concept as “serving the least of these”. That means start standing up for those who need our support most. Class of 2020, when you know better, you do better. Do better starting today. 

In addition to some highlights already mentioned tonight, I thought it to be appropriate to include some major accomplishments of the MP Class of 2020. They include:

  • A record number of 18 students admitted to UGA, breaking the record held by the class of 2019. 

  • Three students accepted and are attending Georgia Tech. The most of any MP graduating class since at least 2007. 

  • 68.4% of Advanced Placement tests earned a 3, 4, or 5 on the exam, the second highest percentage ever at MPHS. 

  • And once again, congratulations TJ on completing both of your 2-year college degrees while still in high school.

  • Finally, I am proud to announce the Mary Persons High School Class of 2020 has posted the highest graduation rate of any of the other previous MP graduating classes. This year’s cohort graduated 91.2% of its class, the highest rate ever posted at Mary Persons and the first time we’ve been above 90%. 

Seniors, today, you officially end your high school career and you begin the rest of your life! Go on and do great things!  You’ve been great all four years but a special thanks to you all for being a GREAT senior class!! And of course Thanks for being a CHAMP! Don’t forget to: 

  • Be Courteous. 

  • Be Honorable. 

  • Be Accountable

  • Be Motivated.  

  • And finally always Be Prepared. 

The faculty and I are certainly going to miss you at Mary Persons. So, congratulations to the Class of 2020!!!!