By Erica Benjamin for the SNAP
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 —
Nearly 100 students from South Stanly High School took to the stage at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center Saturday afternoon for their graduation ceremony.
The ceremony began with a welcome address by Senior Class President Garrett Honeycutt and the singing of the National Anthem by his fellow classmate, Michard Richardson.
On behalf of the staff at South Stanly High School, Principal Shawn Britt welcomed those in attendance.
“I’d like to welcome the moms and dads and all the family members who made this day possible,” Britt said.
“This day would not be possible without your sacrifices and commitment to your sons’ and daughters’ education.”
Britt shared a story he had recently read about a young man, who like many others of his generation, was unable to participate in his own graduation ceremony.
“Private Ken Russell, at the age of 18, was participating in one of the most important events of the 20th century,” Britt said, adding that Russell was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne during D-Day. Britt went on to say that Russell began to realize that back home in Kansas, his high school was having what should have been his graduation ceremony. The challenges that these men faced and how they responded to them shaped not only their world, but the world of others. They had, in fact, built their legacies.
“The Class of 2013, you have reached a milestone in your own lives. It is time for you to build your own legacy,” Britt said.
Special guest for the afternoon was Superintendent of Stanly County Schools Dr. Terry Griffin, who spoke of the wisdom learned during kindergarten years which carry over into adulthood.
“Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten,” Griffin said, as she read an excerpt from the story by Robert Fulghum.
Griffin spoke of the importance of living a balanced life.
“Balance tends to slowly slip away and you may not realize it’s missing until it completely disappears,” Griffin said.
“Work hard when it’s time to work but take time to enjoy your life and give thanks to those who support you along the way.”
Griffin also urged the graduates to remember their classmates as they go out into the world and in their separate ways.
“Take a moment to look around at your classmates. This is probably the last time you’ll band together as a group,” Griffin said.
“Make a special effort to stay in contact. A true friend can never be replaced. They care about you when no one else does.”
Salutatorian Clancy Russell spoke about how life can be seen as a puzzle.
“High school is confusing. There are lots of rules and they don’t always make a whole lot of sense. In this way, high school is like one big puzzle,” Russell said.
“High school is a puzzle and it has to be put together piece by piece.”
Thankfully, Russell said, they didn’t have to put the puzzle together alone. Parents, grandparents, siblings, faculty and most importantly, each other, all had a hand in helping solve the puzzle.
Russell added that although life may still be confusing and doesn’t always make a lot of sense, the class of 2013 has learned that they are capable of putting together life’s puzzles.
Following the showing of the senior video, Steely Russell gave the valedictory address.
“Today we will finally be rewarded for all of our hard work over the years,” Russell said.
“The diplomas that we are about to receive are so much more than pieces of paper, they are the keys to our future.”
Russell spoke of the other forms of keys they have been exposed to over the years, from keys handed to them as toys as small children for entertainment purposes, to the keys to their first car.
“Come this fall many of us will be on our own for the first time. Many of us will be responsible for a set of keys we may not be used to,” Russell said, using the key to a dorm room or a new home as an example. Russell said that the class should be excited about all of the opportunities this new set of keys will unlock.
Prior to handing out diplomas, Britt recognized the top 10 students and N.C. Scholars for the Class of 2013. Of the 99 graduates, 18 are N.C. Scholars, 84 have plans to attend an institution of higher learning, nine will serve in the military and six are entering the workforce. Britt also awarded the Patriot Award to Jarrius Hammond and the principal’s awards to Lydia Gaylord and Austin Smith.
Erica Benjamin is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.