On May 23, 2020, Newcastle Valedictorian, Bryanna Nickel, daughter of Dr. Tony and Jina Nickel of Graham, returned to her high school for the first time since her spring break started on March 6. Standing at a podium on her high school football field, Nickel gave a speech filled with hope and thanksgiving. For all that the seniors of 2020 have lost, Nickel was not deterred. As she spoke, she reminded everyone in the football stands that we are not promised tomorrow. Scattered with scriptures and a few humorous stories about her years at NHS, Nickel delivered an address which reminded everyone to be thankful for the opportunity to have a graduation and to be thankful for the simple things in life. Nickel spoke of classmate and close friend, Morgan Larance, who died last July. This loss reminds her that we can’t foresee the future, but we can enjoy today. Nickel encouraged her classmates to “be kind, find love, dance for no reason at all, travel and take lots of pictures, enjoy sunsets and rainbows, find careers you enjoy and in which you can find success, share your faith, and always be authentic.” She concluded her speech with these parting words, “Go live the life for which you were created.”
Victoria Richards, 2020 salutatorian, also gave a speech which reminded the graduates of happy memories during their high school journey. She will be attending West Texas A & M University this fall.
Hannah Manos, Keelie Blassingame, KC Morgan, and Destiney Gossett participated in the ceremony as well.
Following the graduation, the students were celebrated with a parade in their honor. They returned to the school for the traditional throwing of the graduation caps.
After graduation, we sat down with Nickel to ask what scholarships she had received and how she felt during this uncertain time.
Nickel says that in a time when we have social unrest and a national pandemic still underway, her faith in God sustains her and gives her hope. She reminds us that “with hope and determination, anything is possible.”
Nickel will be attending Oklahoma State University in the fall, where she plans to major in strategic communication and then apply for law school. Nickel will be a part of the OSU honors program and has received over 80,000 dollars in scholarships. Nickel received the prestigious OSU President’s Distinguished Scholarship, the McKnight Scholarship, the Research Scholar Program Scholarship, the Wentz Scholarship, was named to the President’s Leadership Council, and received the local Brandon Bailey Memorial Scholarship.