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Academy graduate: ‘Our future … is something we create.’

By Marina Shankle, for the SNAP

Stanly Academy Learning Center graduates turned their tassels in a graduation ceremony Thursday in the school gymnasium.

“Our stories may not all be the same, but they have led us to the same place,” Destiny Vanhoy said in her senior remarks. “Our future is not just something that happens to us; it is something we create.”

Vanhoy, one of 14 graduates, thanked the SALC staff for helping her class succeed and encouraged fellow graduates to push through setbacks in order to achieve further success.

Stanly County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff James began his address by connecting with the graduates’ experience.

“I took a non-traditional path like you,” James said, sharing his memories of working to support his family while going to high school. He encouraged the students to continue to work hard and seek success in spite of challenges.

“I would encourage you not to let this be the end of your education, but the beginning,” James said. “I would encourage you tonight always to take the high road and look for the best in people.

“You can overcome anything that has occurred to you in the past. You have potential to be anything you choose to be.”

Gideon Xiong received the Principal’s Award at Stanly Academy’s graduation. (Photo by MARINA SHANKLE)

Principal Timothy Woody presented the Principal’s Award, an award celebrating a positive attitude and leadership, to graduate Gideon Xiong, whom he called “a quiet leader who leads by example.”

The Superintendent Student of the Year Award, chosen by faculty and staff, is awarded each year to a student who succeeds in attendance, attitude and grades. This award was presented to Crysta Kitteridge.

Assistant Principal William Benson presented two Eagle Awards, to students whom he said have “overcome various obstacles to achieve their goals.” These students were Vanhoy and David Arrington.

Benson also recognized two students who received recognition for their WorkKeys assessment scores, Aerin Howard and Arrington.

Following the presentation of awards, the graduates crossed the stage to received their high school diplomas.

“I am so proud of each one of you,” Woody said. “Best wishes moving forward.”

Marina Shankle is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.