Keyonna Moore was nervous on Thursday. The 2017 Carthage High School graduate, like her more than 290 classmates, just wanted to get across the stage, accept her diploma and get back to her seat without embarrassing herself.
Keyonna Moore was nervous on Thursday.
The 2017 Carthage High School graduate, like her more than 290 classmates, just wanted to get across the stage, accept her diploma and get back to her seat without embarrassing herself.
She was so focused on what was immediately in front of her, she looked right past the big surprise waiting just off Principal Matt Huntley's right shoulder.
“I was really surprised,” Keyonna Moore said. “I was too nervous to even notice he was there until I almost walked by.”
The surprise was her big brother, Marine Cpl. Derrick Moore, a 2013 CHS graduate, just back from deployment with a Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard ship in the Middle East and western Pacific. Derrick Moore said his unit only returned to Camp Pendleton, California the week before his sister's graduation ceremony, so he didn't know until the last minute whether he'd be able to make it to Carthage for the big day.
“I wasn't expecting to get back from deployment this early,” Derrick Moore said. “We're pretty close. We're five years apart and growing up together, we got along pretty well.”
Moore said he got into town, then waited in the Principal's office at Carthage High School for about 45 minutes before coming out and standing behind Huntley as his sister crossed the stage.
A video on The Carthage Press Facebook page, that had been viewed over 175,000 times and seen by over 610,000 people by Tuesday, shows Keyonna Moore getting her picture taken on the stage, then looking at Huntley before stepping off the stage.
She shakes hands with her principal, then looks up as Derrick Moore says “Well hello there.”
She takes half a step backwards in surprise before jumping, crying, into her brother's arms.
“It was great. It was definitely worth all the struggles to get back,” Derrick Moore said as the family had a brief reunion in the hallway. “It meant everything to be able to surprise her like this.”
Graduation, which would have been the last held at K.E. Baker Stadium, was moved indoors early Thursday afternoon when the forecast showed a 40 percent chance for precipitation starting at 7 p.m.
That forecast proved to be wrong, but it didn't dampen the excitement among the graduates who filled the auxiliary gym at Carthage High School before filing out to sit in front of a packed house of family and friends.
The CHS choir and band entertained and class Salutatorian Christopher Roberts gave the first student address.
Roberts focused on advice he received from his teachers, including Science Teacher Autumn Palmer.
“I don't know if she realizes the influence she had on me or not because I probably didn't show it too well,” Roberts said. “But seeing how much love and hard work she gives her family, and then seeing her in school every day with the biggest smile and being maybe the happiest person I have ever met, while being one of the best teachers in this school, hands down despite her obstacles. Thank you Mrs Palmer for teaching me more than chemistry and showing us that no matter what stands in your way, there's always a silver lining and a reason to be happy. I rarely think this, but I truly aspire to be like you.”
Valedictorian Emerson Cochran talked about the Class of 2017 being “ambitious” and “determined to succeed.”
“Listen to your dreams is one of the things I'm going to miss most about being part of this class,” Cochran said. “And like our passions, our dreams are pretty diverse. We have a future FBI agent, a Rockett, a broadcaster. I've spoken with attorneys, actors, doctors, engineers, missionaries, and teachers. Just because these are our potential doesn't make them any less real to me. It's nothing short of amazing to me that we have the foresight and self-confidence to create these dreams. It shows our ambition.”