• Long Beach Breeze

Long Beach High seniors honored at awards night

By Toni Miles

Tashunda McCall clicks a snapshot of her son, graduating senior AJ Allen. A LBHS graduating senior is given her copy of the yearbook.

Applause and cheers shook the rafters of Long Beach High School’s (LBHS) gymnasium the evening of Thursday, May 5, but, on this night, the applause was not for an athletic team. Rather, the 212 students of the LBHS 2022 Senior Class were honored at the district’s annual Senior Celebration Night.

Members of the Class of 2022 are leaving Long Beach High School with 115 graduating students accepting more than $3.1 million in scholarships to colleges and universities across the country.

Every single senior was honored during Senior Celebration Night, and school awards and scholarships were also announced. Seniors who purchased a yearbook were also given their copy of this year’s LBHS yearbook, themed “Shift.”

Leslie Rigby is the yearbook advisor. She and Brandy Zink coordinated the Senior Celebration Night so family and friends could celebrate the accomplishments of every graduating senior at LBHS, most of whom were decked out in all-white clothing.

It was a picture-perfect moment for Tashunda McCall, as she her husband and children cheered on her son, AJ Allen, the first student honored at the public celebration.

“I’m so proud of him,” McCall said, grinning ear-to-ear after snapping a lot of photos of her son.

The night’s celebration was a bittersweet moment for Long Beach School District Superintendent Dr. Talia Locke, who is a Long Beach High School graduate herself.

“I can remember my Senior Day, [which] took place in 1995. There are lots of similarities, such as the traditional all-white attire and the receiving of the yearbooks. I have wonderful memories of those times with my friends, but this event has also evolved into something much more,” said Dr. Locke. “Now, we get to celebrate each unique student by sharing their advice and/or quote for freshmen, their scholarships and awards and their plans after they leave the doors of Long Beach High School.”

Long Beach High School Principal Justin Sutton says this class, like every graduating class and its students, holds a special place in his heart. He also praised this class for overcoming unprecedented challenges.

“The Class of 2022 holds a unique place when looking at the impact of COVID on education,” Sutton said. “They were the class that had a pre-pandemic freshman year, saw their sophomore year end early, had a junior year completely impacted by COVID, and started to see the beginning of a return to school as it had once been during their senior year. Through all of this, they have had to adjust to many changes in the realm of education and the rest of the world.”

Maci Dennison is honored at LBHS’s Senior Celebration Night

As for Superintendent Locke, she hopes her life’s story, with local roots and strong ties to the community she lives and works in, shows that hard work, perseverance, drive and learning from failure can help students achieve their dreams.

“I definitely didn’t have what others may consider an easy life, and I didn’t go the traditional route in college; but, once I made up my mind that I wanted to work with children and do something that would make a difference in someone else’s life, I did it and have tried to be my best,” she says. “I’ve made mistakes throughout my educational journey, but there is never a day that I don’t think about how I could have done something better or different to make a stronger impact.”

The entire Senior Celebration Night event was livestream broadcasted by LBTV and the students with the Bearcat Broadcast Network.

Long Beach High School’s Class of 2022 graduation was held May 17 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.

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