AHS Class of 2024 encouraged to make an 'impact'

Mursal Nazari arrived in Owensboro not quite three years ago, with other refugees who had fled Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal.

At the time, Nazari spoke some English, she said, but was not fluent.

“It was strange,” Nazari said. “I had a weird feeling, being in a new place and starting a new school.”

Nazari, who was then 15, enrolled at Apollo High School.

“When I got here (to Owensboro), I thought I was depressed, because I was far from my country and friends, so school helped me a lot,” Nazari said. “Everything was nice, and there were teachers and students that helped me adapt to my new school.

“Apollo teachers are really special to me,” Nazari said.

Friday night, Nazari and the rest of the AHS class of 2024 received their diplomas at Eagle Stadium. Despite the threats of rain forecast the day before, Friday’s skies were clear and bright, giving the graduates one last perfect memory of their time at Apollo.

Nazari arrived in late 2021, when the class of 2024 were sophomores. The class had already gone through difficult experiences.

“As a class, we have overcome many obstacles, graduate Briley Jerome told the overflow crowd at Friday’s ceremony.

Because of those challenges, “we’ve become not only stronger students, but stronger individuals,” Jerome said.

The class began their high school years during the Covid-19 pandemic, which required students to learn virtually at times. Also, AHS was undergoing renovations during their time at the school.

The graduates started their high school years, “like no one before us,” Class Honor Graduate Reese Wethington said. “We were the first class at Apollo High School to complete the year online and alone.

“This brought about adaptability, resilience and connection to each other,” Wethington said.

Nazari, who will attend Kentucky Wesleyan College in the fall with plans to become a physician, thrived at Apollo, and on the state stage. In addition to being a member of the Beta Club, Nazari was an named a Health Youth Ambassador for Kentucky Youth Advocates.

When Nazari skipped a grade, jumping from freshman to junior, “I was so stressed,” she said. “But all my teachers advised me and said, ‘you can do it.’ ”

“Apollo gave me such a great education,” Nazari said.

Before diplomas were presented, Apollo Principal Bob Dych said although the graduates’ time at the school was ending, they would always have a place at AHS.

“No matter where you go in the world, you’ll find joy in knowing you are ever part of the ‘Eagle Family,’ ” Dych said.

Wethington reminded the graduates Friday’s ceremony was “not about looking at the past, but looking forward.”

“Now, at the end of our career as Apollo Eagles, we have an opportunity,” Wethington said, and that the students would “achieve greatness.”

“Greatness is measured by the impact you had on the lives of others,” Wethington said. “Class of 2024, thank you for impacting my life.”