By Erica Benjamin for the SNAP
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 —
West Stanly High School conducted commencement exercises for its 50th graduating class Saturday at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.
Emily Hatley offered greetings to the families and teachers who were in attendance.
“On behalf of the class of 2013, I’d like to thank you for sharing this special moment with us. More importantly, I’d like to thank you for all your support you have given us throughout our lives,” Hatley said.
Salutatorian Alexandria Poplin spoke of one of her favorite childhood movie moments from the Disney classic, “The Lion King.” Poplin shared a few verses from the song, “The Circle of Life,” and explained how it has taken on a new meaning as a graduate.
“This is our circle, our leap of faith,” Poplin said.
She continued by explaining how as middle schoolers, she and her fellow students couldn’t wait to get into high school and once arriving they missed being the oldest kids in the school.
“As juniors we couldn’t wait to be seniors; as seniors we couldn’t wait to graduate,” Poplin said, adding that new and exciting things await them in their futures.
Poplin also reflected on the strength of the class of 2013, which was tested shortly after they entered into high school.
“I’m proud to be a part of a class that came together so unconditionally in the face of tragedy,” Poplin said, referring to the passing of fellow student Jesse Kidd in 2010 and offering condolences to the Kidd family on behalf of his classmates.
Poplin closed with words from poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail,” Poplin said.
Following a rendition of “I Hope You Dance,” by Cassidy Parker, Ariel Bridges introduced Superintendent of Stanly County Schools Dr. Terry Griffin, who gave the commencement address.
While preparing her speech for the class of 2013, Griffin realized that much of the advice that they would need to be successful after high school was learned during their early years. Griffin shared a short story by Robert Fulghum, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” and spoke of how the lessons can be applied to graduates.
On the subject of playing fair and not hitting people, Griffin asked the students to remember that no matter how successful they become, the way you treat people matters.
“People may not remember what you wore or what kind of shoes you have on, but they will remember how you treated them,” Griffin said.
Valedictorian MacKenzie Brown spoke next.
Brown noted that much has happened in the past 50 years since West Stanly High School had its first graduating class. Just as the world has seen its share of tragedies and triumphs, so has the class of 2013.
“We are a class of overcomers. We have been faced with tragedy throughout our 18 years as well as in high school,” Brown said.
“What makes us so special is that every time we fall down, we stand up taller and stronger.”
Prior to the presentation of diplomas, Emily Hatley, Kacie Hatley and Cassidy Parker sang “God Speed” in honor of their late classmate, Jesse Kidd.
Anna Barbee concluded the ceremony with these words from Harriet Tubman: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Erica Benjamin is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.