“From the moment of the tornado, I’ve had a reporter in my face asking about these students,” Vaughn said. “All I could say to each of them was, ‘They get it. These kids understand what’s important in life.’”
As she continued with her speech, she praised the Class of 2012 seniors for their dedication and perseverance through the tragedy of the tornado and all the many changes it brought into their lives, such as attending Heritage High School for a portion of the year. She commended them for the exemplary behavior during that time and also for their final act of unselfishness.
“Inside these two boxes are watches that will never be worn by the students who deserve them,” Vaughn said, “because you chose Chelsea Black and Adam “Tex” Carroll as your Mr. and Miss Ringgold High School.”
Black and Carroll were both killed in the April 2011 tornado. Vaughn said the gifts would be displayed in a case at the school, unwrapped, with a plaque bearing their names so that in the years ahead they will never be forgotten.
“But I don’t want this to be a sad time for you,” Vaughn concluded, as the crowd gave a standing ovation to the seniors. “I want you to celebrate. Remember your time here and cherish it. I am so proud of each of you. I will never forget you.”