Honor Society inductees live their pledge

Honor Society inductees live their pledge

May 25th, 2011 by Mike O'Neal in Catoosa

From left, Blake Bagby; Taylor Stephens, standing in for her cousin Chelsea Black; Clayton Carlock; and Lauren Carpenter are inducted into the National Honor Society at Ringgold High School. Photo by Mike O'Neal

Ringgold students, whatever their grade, will always recall 2011 as the year of the tornado.

It is a year when buildings, hallowed by alumni, and that had "been around forever" were reduced to rubble.

It is a year when classmates who, like all youth, seemed invincible were suddenly snatched from the living.

It has been a year when in a matter of minutes on the night of April 27 the world of Ringgold High School turned upside down.

"We've undergone a terrible situation, a tragedy, during this whole 15 days or five years or ever how long it's been," principal Sharon Vaughn said during the school's National Honor Society 2011 stole and induction ceremony.

The ceremony held last week had been postponed and relocated from its original site due to death and destruction left in the tornado's wake.

"This event was scheduled for the week of a couple of funerals," Vaughn said, referring to two of her students, juniors Chelsea Black and Adam Carroll, who died during the storm.

Rather than cancel, the ceremony was held in "loving memory of Chelsea Black" who, had she lived, would have been inducted into the Honor Society. A cousin, Taylor Stephens, stood in her stead among still-grieving students being recognized for their scholarship, service leadership and character.

Vaughn said that on that long dark night of chaos she thought there "might not be any school for the remainder of the year" after seeing the battered building and campus. But the school and its students regrouped, relocated and persevered.

"Students, you have learned lessons that I never hoped for," she said. "You have developed the skills to solve problems."

Vaughn said that in the days following the storm the inductees exhibited a sense of service "that we never imagined' and that their leadership skills had never shown so brightly.

"You were there for the entire community," she said.

And it is during times like these that "your character comes through," Vaughn told her students, their relatives and friends.

"These students, this school, this community refused to quit," she said.