By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Some would say the face of Sara Carrisoza stands out in a crowd — even among her peers in the Class of 2016.
But the noticeable blonde who was a part of the Millington Central High School Yearbook staff, member of the Beta Club, Pep Club, SGA and FCA almost missed tonight’s graduation. The 106 Commencement of MCHS was scheduled to take place on the turf of Mooney Boswell Football Stadium field at 7 p.m.
Carrisoza, like most of her classmates, planned to be there since the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. Then Carrisoza was struck by illness jeopardizing not only her attendance but her life.
Despite being in a wheelchair and under the consistent care of classmates, Carrisoza was glad to under the Millington sky on the football field.
“It feels really great to be here considering last night I had a seizure,” Carrisoza said. “I feel like God has worked in a lot of different ways. Especially when the Class of 2016 prayed for me at rehearsal today. I think that’s why I’m here tonight celebrating with them.”
Through prayers and encouragement from her peers, faculty and administrators, Carrisoza was among the candidates for graduation in person. MCHS Principal Clint Durley welcomed a packed grandstand to the 2016 MCHS Graduation. Joining him on the stage were assistant principals Beth Hale, Andrew Taylor and Jeana Decker. There to hand out the diplomas were Millington Municipal Schools Superintendent Dr. David Roper.
The audience and graduates heard from Co-Salutatorians Ashton Smith and Brittany Wright. Then taking the stage was 2016 Valedictorian Chelsea Landis.
The trio of scholars were among the students to help the Class of 2016 earn $3,144,876 in scholarships. Among the moments of recognition and songs of farewell, under the guidance of Band Director Megan Woodring and Choir Director Calvin Ellis, there was one student grateful to have her rightful seat among the Class of 2016.
“I didn’t look at things in a completely good way,” Carrisoza acknowledged. “I was like, ‘Oh whatever. So, I had a seizure.’ As I took those test. They ran test and stuff. I was like, ‘I’m a senior in high school. I have my whole life to live. I have to go to college.’ I’m really grateful that I’m here. There was a chance I wouldn’t have been.”
Carrisoza heard Senior Class President Jerrett Everson give the welcome focusing on the family bond the Class of 2016 has. Maybe it was the health scare of Carrisoza that helped his words take on more meaning. Everson noted to his classmate no matter where life takes them, they all “bleed black and gold.”
“It makes me feel great to know that I have friends who are always there for me, regardless,” Carrisoza said. “This just shows who your true friends are.”
Durley finally announced the Class of 2016 as graduates of Millington Central High School. Although Carrisoza stole a few moments of standing to hug some of her friends, Hale was there to tell her to get back in her wheelchair and take it easy.
With tears of joy in her eyes, Carrisoza was escorted toward friends and family.
“People should remember about the Class of 2016 is that we all love each other,” she concluded. “Nobody fights. We all love and support each other. I think that’s really important for when you grow up and enter the real world.”