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Principal Matt Coker with 2019 graduate Grace Gibson at last year's graduation. Photo by Kyle Thornton

Coker talks about close of school year

By Michael Butler

This school year will be remembered as one unlike any other. Tallassee High School principal Matt Coker called it "surreal."

"I've been in education for 25 years. Before that I was a student. I've been going to school my whole life. Every year that I can remember, I've been in a school," Coker said. "This is the time of the year when we're the most busy. You're trying to finish. We're trying to get our seniors graduated. We're going through all our banquets - all of the things we're normally trying to do. Not being able to close out a year in the way that we're used to is just hard to believe."

With the changes, Coker said that Tallassee has made the most of what they can control.

"We've adjusted to the new normal. The longer we do it, the more normal it seems. Our teachers have really stepped up."

Last week, the high school had a virtual awards ceremony to highlight the achievements of the graduating class.

"It's the night that we bring academics to the forefront, more than any other night of the year," said Coker. "The seniors are the ones we feel the worst for. Everybody else will have another year. Life will go on in the high school and other schools. For these seniors, this is the time when it's all about you. It's your time. They've been robbed of that."

The most momentus occasion for graduates is commencement or graduation exercises. How will this year's 127 seniors be recognized?

"There is a possibility that it's going to be virtual," Coker pointed out. "We're going to exhaust every opportunity to have some form of live graduation and that our kids get to walk across the field at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium."