As the final days of high school wraps up, members of the Grove High School Class of 2017 are making preparation for this weekend's graduation ceremony.

The event is set for 3 p.m., Sunday, May 14, at Ridgerunner Stadium, next to the Grove Middle School campus. Seniors are asked to arrive by 2 p.m. at the Upper Elementary Gymnasium for final instructions and pre-ceremony preparation.

During the ceremony, the top three scholars, Valedictorian Alivia Martin and Co-Salutatorians Stevie Elkins and Emily Sisco will address their classmates.

Meet the Top Three

Alivia Martin – Valedictorian

Alivia Martin, 17, is the daughter of Travis and April Martin. She plans to attend Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and major in economics.

“I went to Florida on vacation two years ago, and I asked my family ‘why don’t we live here,’” Martin said. “I started looking at universities there. Last summer I toured four different colleges, one in Boca Raton, two in Tampa and one in Palm Beach. I just really liked Florida Atlantic.

“I like the opportunities the bigger school offered. It felt like it’s own little town – and it’s three miles from the beach, which is pretty amazing.”

Martin plans to study economics, because it allows her to pursue a career that mixes number and political science. She eventually hopes to work as an economist within the U.S. government.

Outside of school, Martin takes part in a ministry STL or Show the Love. An outreach in Tulsa, she volunteers at least one weekend a month handing out clothing, food and toiletries to the homeless. She also attends church at Elk River Baptist Church.

One of her favorite memories of high school is the time her class spent building the class float for homecoming during her sophomore, junior and senior years. Led by sponsor and GHS art instructor Angie Duff, the class worked together and won the competition each year.

Another stems around her favorite teacher, Valerie Epperson.

“She not only makes a very hard subject, AP Chemistry, easier to understand, but she also is fun to be around,” Martin said. “She tries very hard to make the subject fun and she loves the subject and her class.

“All year, I have never seen [her] in a bad mood. She is always happy.”

During her speech, Martin plans to talk about people she owes all of her achievements.

“So you’ll have to come to graduation to see who it is,” she said with a laugh.

Martin said she’s been writing her speech in her head since her sophomore year of high school.

“I’ve wanted to be valedictorian for a long time,” Martin said. “That was my motivation when things got hard.”

Martin said ultimately, she’s learned one vital lesson throughout her high school career.

“Who you are, your work ethic and how you act towards people matters all the time,” Martin said.

Stevie Elkins – Co-Salutatorian.

Stevie Elkins, 18, is the daughter of Sallie Sills and the late Cole Elkins. She plans to either enter the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville and study chemical engineering or enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Elkins said she’s trying to decide her path. She loves the idea of mixing her two favorite subjects – math and chemistry – in her future career, but after talking with recruiters, she’s considering a path which mixes both engineering and the armed forces.

Elkins said her favorite part of high school includes the teachers that have walked alongside her as she’s taken classes on the AP track.

“[The] teachers really cared about what they were teaching,” Elkins said. “It wasn’t a blow off. It was important to them to get us ready for college.”

Elkins said she plans to talk about successes and failures and overcoming obstacles in the future.

“Growing up includes a lot of times, when there seems like there is no hope,” Elkins said. “But no matter what, you can overcome them.

“There is going to be a lot of successes and failures, but those times don’t define you. A truly successful person is one who is happy.”

Elkins said she chose the topic, because there have been many times in school, she hasn’t always gotten the grade she wanted.

“I realize those are probably going to become more frequent, but they don’t make me any less of who I am,” she said.

Emily Sisco – Co-Salutatorian

Emily Sisco, 18, is the daughter of Shane and Jill Sisco. She plans to attend the University of Chicago, located in Hyde Park and pursue a career in astrophysics research.

“It’s ranked number three in U.S. colleges for the best astrophysics program in the Midwest,” Sisco said of her choice.

She chose her career path, as she developed a love for the physics side of chemistry, and a passion for learning how stuff moves.

A chance to take a Physics of Stars class at the University of Chicago in 2015 helped Sisco determine the course for her high education.

She said a favorite memory of high school revolves around her teachers, especially those who taught AP courses.

“You can tell they care about their jobs and the students,” Sisco said. “You build relationships with your teachers, because they want you to succeed.

Sisco said she plans to base her speech on a quote by Enrico Fermi.

“[He said] “It’s no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge,” Sisco said. “I’m going to draw from that and say to never stop learning and to continue to learn something new every day.”

Saving Seats at Ridgerunner Stadium

While it is not a new rule, school officials once again plan to enforce the "no saving" seats at Ridgerunner Stadium.

The move comes after school officials refinished the bleachers during the 2014-15 school year and worry the tape will cause residual damage. 

Inclement Weather Plans

As of press time, school officials continue to plan to have Sunday's ceremony at Ridgerunner Stadium. The forecast is for highs in the lower 80s and sun. School officials suggest wearing sunscreen as shade is limited in the stadium.

However, as always, plans have been made should the weekend forecast deviate from the sunny and warm outlook. 

In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to Grove's First Baptist Church, 501 E. 13th Street, Grove.

Should graduation be moved to First Baptist, each graduate will be given a limited number of tickets for family members to sit inside the sanctuary. Overflow seating for those without tickets will be available in other rooms in the church.

School officials plan to have students walk through all of the rooms so family and friends will see them. The overflow rooms will have a live feed of graduation being projected on large screens.

Watch for any last minute graduation related announcements.


One Thing with Alivia Martin

One person who inspires you

My mom. She taught me how to work hard and do the right thing the first time, and keep my priorities straight. Her favorite motto is “work before play”. Because of that, I’ve always tried to do my best in everything.

One book that’s stuck with you

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boon. Corrie and her sister, Betsy, helped the Jewish people during the Holocaust. They were sent to the concentration camps.

What inspired me is how focused Corrie and her sister were in the concentration camp. How focused they were on God. In one part, Betsy thanks God for the lice. Corrie asked her why, and Besty said it was because God said to give thanks in everything. It’s given me an example of how to live life.

One thing that might surprise people

That I do other things than just studying. I don’t think many people know that I run and I work out. I run six days a week and I work out at G-Sports Club. It gives me an hour just for myself, where I can put aside all of my responsibilities.

One thing you can’t live without

God. God has been a big part of my life since I was little. I’ve been raised in the church, and have a daily quiet time. I know God has been with me my whole senior year, when I’ve been under a lot of stress. I know God is someone I can lean on through college as well.

One piece of advice that’s stuck with you

A quote from Henry Ford. “Rather you think you can, or you think you can’t -- you’re right.”

It’s all in the attitude, the way you think about your goals. Whether you achieve or not, it’s in your head the whole time.


One Thing with Stevie Elkins

One person who inspires you

Jeanne Smith, because she’s so happy all of the time. I can tell she loves her job a lot and puts a lot of work into it. It’s inspiring. I just want to be that happy someday.

One book that’s stuck with you

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. We read it in sophomore English. It has lots of lessons about not taking what you have for granted and about living life every day to the fullest.

One thing that might surprise people

I’m a competitive boxer. I have a match in Pryor on May 13, so if I have a black eye at graduation, that’s why.

One thing you can’t live without

My family. We’re all really close knit. I know no matter what happens, they will help me through it. Even if it’s not what their choice might be.

One piece of advice that’s stuck with you

Get involved. It matters because when you try to get into highly competitive schools, they don’t just look at the GPA. They want someone well rounded, who did extra activities and still maintained good grades.


One Thing with Emily Sisco

One person who inspires you

Valerie Epperson. She’s a very unique individual. You can’t help, once you get to know her, to love her. She’s very unique and not afraid to be who she is. Nothing is going to stop her from doing that.

One book that’s stuck with you

1984 by George Orwell. It really struck a chord in me how a society can fall so far. What he imagined, in 40 years, could really be something real. It’s intriguing how society has fallen.

One thing that might surprise people

My mother has a rare disease called Acromegaly. She’s the president of a non-profit for the acromegaly community.

One thing you can’t live without

The people in my life. They have been here for me my entire life. I can’t imagine what It would be without them.

One piece of advice that’s stuck with you

Never be afraid to do something that makes you happy. Going to the University of Chicago, is a good path to get where I want to go. I learned not to be afraid to put yourself out there. You may fail, but you’ll get back up and keep on going.