Comets receive diplomas

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, June 13, 2018

By Shannon Beamon
Staff Writer
The seniors of North Stanly High School got suited up for graduation not once, but twice this weekend.
As the blue-gowned seniors arrived at Pfeiffer University for their ceremony Saturday morning, a power outage closed it down. Seniors had to come back and don their gowns again for a rescheduled ceremony at 2 p.m.
“I originally had written to say good morning in my speech, but I guess I should say good afternoon,” joked salutatorian Anne Marie Mullis as they reconvened later that day.
The rest of the class laughed off the delay as well, smiling as they came in — which isn’t a bad attitude to have when it comes to facing life’s unexpected moments, other graduation speakers noted.
“It’s not always going to go the way you want,” valedictorian Elaine Hudson said. “So be prepared.”
And the class of 2018 certainly seems prepared.
The 147 NSHS graduates have received a total of $1.2 million in scholarships this year. There were 21 N.C. Scholars and three students are enlisting in the military, Principal Joy Hathcock noted at the ceremony, as well as 280 college credits through Stanly Community College’s Career and College Promise program.
“Staff and administration, we couldn’t have done this without you and I thank you,” said Hudson before having all the NSHS staff at the graduation stand up for a round of applause. “I do not believe there is another school with a more caring staff.”
But while prepared for their next step, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to take, Mullis added.
“Of course I was excited for this day to come, but I wasn’t like running-around excited,” she said. “I’ve had the most fun these past four years … and now this chapter of our lives is ending.”
Some of that was lived out in big moments, like beating Albemarle High School at football for the first time in 22 years, or electing two exceptional children as prom king and queen.
Other times it was lived out in small moments, like rushing out after school to avoid parking lot traffic or seeing a deer get chased by a classmate across the football field.
But whether big or small, the moments they leave behind at NSHS are some of the best they’ve known, student speakers said.
“I promise, you’ll make more though,” graduation speaker Krystal Kimrey said.
A 1976 NSHS alumna who went on to play basketball for the University of Maryland, Kimrey is now a behavioral specialist for Stanly County Schools. But despite that gap in age and experience, Kimrey assured students they aren’t all that different.
“I, too, thought my best days were behind me,” Kimrey said. “But boy was I wrong.”
Like the game of basketball, there are always new moments to take advantage of, she told students.
For her that’s come in the big moments like donating stem cells to help with her brother’s cancer treatment, and in little moments like getting to know the students where she works.
“As long as you know what’s going on around you and pay attention, you’ll always have a play to make,” Kimrey said.
And even as graduates talked, hugged former teachers and reflected on old memories, they seemed to get that, too.
After graduation, they talked excitedly about summer jobs, or scheduling college classes. One graduation cap even read, “The best is yet to come.”
As Hudson commissioned her peers: “Do not be afraid to try new things… Do not be afraid to live.”

Valedictorian Elaine Hudson, left, receives her diploma from Principal Joy Hathcock.

North Stanly High School students celebrate after graduating Friday in a ceremony at Pfeiffer University. The graduation was to begin in the morning, but a power outage pushed the ceremony back to a 2 p.m. start.

Contact Shannon Beamon at 704-982-0816 or