GRADUATION 2024: A look back at South Stanly High

Published 2:50 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

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South Stanly’s graduation was May 24. The following speeches were presented that day.

Welcome – Julia Rogers

Good morning South Stanly High School graduating class of 2024, faculty members, parents, and guests. My name is Julia Rogers and I would like to start off by saying how honored I am to speak on behalf of the graduating class of 2024. Welcome to South Stanly High School’s Commencement Ceremony.
We have reached this day by hard work, but it has not been without a series of successes and failures. I will always remember what someone once told me when I was young regarding the word failure. It completely shifted my ideology of the word “failure.” They said, “Failure is just a way of showing that you tried.” That comment truly stuck with me, especially throughout high school. It has mostly saved me from worrying about things in the past and what the future holds. People want to be successful and people try hard to not mess up. I think it is important that we accept failure for what it is and mistakes for what they are. I see a new opportunity and I try hard to chase after my dreams. I believe it is important we chase after our dreams without fears of failure because failure helps us grow, and strive to be better. It is reported that Thomas Edison tried 2,774 times to invent the light bulb. What if he had stopped? Imagine how many people probably told him that he was wasting his time. What if he had stopped on the 2,773rd time? He was determined and kept pursuing what he knew could be. As a result, he succeeded through failure.
Furthermore, we want to imagine a bright future for ourselves. So, how do we get there? We get there by making a plan not determined by success or failure, but based on our desire to reach the intended goal. I hear people often say “failure is the way to success,” but I believe failure and success can co-exist depending on perspective. So, what will we do? Will we go for only those goals that are attainable, or will we go for the goals that we really are passionate about regardless of the outcome?
I hope that when we gather for our class reunions we can all share exciting stories about the things that we have tried. Ten years, 20 years, or even 30 years from now, I believe that we can look back on those years with pride in our successes and the failures. But today, let’s celebrate the success that this day represents.
Welcome to a new beginning; welcome to the South Stanly High School Class of 2024 Commencement Ceremony.

Class of 2024 Speaker
Emma Curlee

Good morning friends, family, members of the board, and staff. My name is Emma Curlee, and I am so honored to be speaking on behalf of my fellow classmates. While writing this speech, I really didn’t know what to write about. That was until I was laying in bed and I saw a Tiktok talking about how we always say we can’t wait to grow up and that stuck with me.
As someone, like all of us, who is graduating today, we all dreamed of future moments. Like when going into kindergarten we couldn’t wait for the next year, and then in fifth grade, we couldn’t wait to go into middle school, and then we couldn’t wait to go into high school, and then, finally, we yearned to graduate because we just couldn’t wait. We couldn’t wait to be “done,” when in reality we are only starting. We can’t wait to go and see what life has for us.
We are so blinded by this “I can’t wait” view that we forget to see what we have now. We forget to stop and look at the people around us and take in the moments we have. We all want to grow up so fast and be mature adults. But … news flash, we won’t be this grown mature adult the second we walk across the stage. We have much more growing to do. We all have more to learn and experience.
While I’m not saying being reckless and irresponsible is what we need to do, we should continue to have fun, make the memories, learn new things and most of all, enjoy the moments and the journey that has gotten us to the points we will venture.
We all are on a journey together. For some it has been many years and others just a couple of months. We have not gone through the same things, but we have been on the same journey together of getting here and graduating.
In this next season of life, we won’t be on the same journeys anymore; we will be creating a new journey, a new path, a new memory to tell our children like our parents do with us. While in this next season, please do not wish it away. Be excited for what comes next but don’t be so blinded by the “I can’t waits” that you fail to appreciate what it is you couldn’t wait for in the moment. Live in the moment and the experience that you have in the present.
Once, I babysat a young girl and I asked her “What do you want to be when you grow up?” just trying to make conversation. She told me “I don’t want to grow up.” We continued talking and she gave me her reasons, but something about that made me smile. Instead of wishing time away with the “I can’t wait to grow up,” she was enjoying the life she was living in at that moment.
I know I have wished time away in life looking towards the future and wanting to have time go faster. I know I have looked at the future that I wanted and wished for it saying “I can’t wait for it to be here,” when I did not even appreciate what I had then. I did not appreciate what I just wished for a couple days, months or years ago.
A big “I can’t wait” moment that we are currently experiencing is happening for us now and yet for some of us we still say “I can’t wait to go to college and get out.” We can’t wait to leave. While we might not be wishing to leave the people that we love, we are wishing to move on and grow. With growth, sometimes people have to stay in the past. That is why it is important to live in the moment with these people. Because living in the moment also means seeing the people around you. The people around you make the memories what they are.
Furthermore, growing up we would run to Mom, Dad, Nana, Pawpaw or whoever we thought our whole world was. As we got older, we stopped doing it because … well, we got older. But I encourage you today to thank the people who have gotten you here.
The people who see you as that little kid running to them because you are still their whole world. The people here are rooting you on and wishing only the best for you in this next season of life. They are your biggest fans and will always love you, and they “can’t wait” to see you succeed.
So now as we finish this time together, a time many of us “couldn’t wait for,” keep the “I can’t waits” for a bit and just keep in mind that you just “couldn’t wait” for this moment only days ago. Keep in mind the people around you and the ones that have gotten you here. Remember the people who have cheered you on and even when you were wrong were always on your side.
So, live in these moments, they only come once. And once they are gone, we would’ve wished we were more in tune with them. I “can’t wait” to see what we all have in store as we live in the moments of tomorrow. Thank you!

Class of 2024 Speaker
Gabriela Salazar

Good morning friends, family, faculty, and most importantly, Class of 2024. My name is Gabriela Salazar.
To start, this wasn’t the easiest speech to write, so in advance, I’m sorry if I sound cliche. However, while writing, I began to think about much of the valuable knowledge I have learned from my peers, teachers and family.
The most important lesson I remembered though, was to live in the present moment. This realization illuminated a greater revelation. This is not an ending, but a present moment to be cherished, and its significance isn’t just in what has led to this moment, but that it is actually the beginning of something new. A series of present moments to cherish.
Mark Doty wrote a poem called “Golden Retrievals,” a poem I enjoyed as part of my AP Literature class. In this poem, the speaker, a puppy, admonishes his master for being “sunk in the past, half our walk, thinking of what you never can bring back” or “off in some fog concerning- tomorrow.” It is a poem that focuses on not being pulled back into the past, or being too focused on the future, but instead, taking in every moment in the present. So, just like this dog in this poem, I ask you to be present in all moments —especially this one.
These past four years have gone by in a blur and many times, we have said how we couldn’t wait for that “thing” staring us down in the future. Whether that “thing” was the weekend, the bell to ring, a hard class to finish, summer to come — or more fittingly, graduation.
So often we fail to live in the moment. We are distracted and taunted by our future or past. Many times, I especially have found myself frantically waiting for what’s ahead and completely missing what was right in front of me.
Many of us have memories, certain classes or sports that we wish we could go back to. Moments where we didn’t realize how perfect it was until it was too late. One of those is being a kid again where life was easy and bright. Like playing outside until night, having snacks and nap time, and recess with the people around us in elementary school. Even growing up and going to middle school, where we all had awkward moments. And I know most of us remember those unforgettable Honor Society trips where we sang “Party in the USA” on our way to Universal or the broken TVs and other crazy memories we have shared. These memories have made me realize the power of moments. Moments that I did not appreciate — but wish I would have.
Despite those perfect moments though, all we’ve ever wanted was to grow up. We yearned to be older, taller, to be able to drive, but most of all, to graduate. And if any of you know me, then you know that I am specifically one of those people who like to try hard, do my best, and stress easily over mundane things. However, I am learning slowly when I worry I’m robbing myself of the power of the moment.
Worrying about the future too much robs us of the present. We have time to do the things we want to do and that’s what should push us, but I ask for you all to live in the present moment before it disappears. Enjoy every second whether it is good or bad because one day you are going to look back at all these memories and wonder where all the time went, not realizing how fast we were growing up. Somehow the past 13 years have flown by. Years of waiting for this very moment turned into months, weeks, and days, days that have now come to an end.
Over the last four years, we have not only learned to solve for X or that the mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. These four years, and even the ones before, are much more than just the education we have earned.
Between the walls of South Stanly High School, we experienced friendships, relationships, successes, failures, laughter and extremely cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
Like all those championships we won for track and softball, our junior and senior proms, our freshman year being split into A and B days because of Covid, all our amazing teachers and even the ones we thought weren’t so amazing. Above all, those years and the people around us have shaped us into who we are today, whether we like to admit it or not.
This shaping has helped to notch out our purpose, something we all have. Whether we may not see it, or know exactly what we want to do in life, there is something we are all passionate about.
So, Class of 2024, in this next chapter of your life, strive to work for your goals and dreams and truly find that happiness in your purpose because we still have growing to do. Be proud of where you are right now and how far you have come because it is an unarguable truth that we are all different than we were years ago. Those individual moments have shaped us into who we are now, and we will continue to change as the moments of tomorrow propel us into the future.
Especially thank you to our families and mentors who have helped us get here today. Personally, I know that I have my amazing parents who have done everything for me, I have my brother, and especially, I have my role model of a sister to thank for my individual journey — I’m sure you all have similar people who have made your journey better. Remember to embrace the time with these people daily.
So … as we all walk across this stage today, I hope that we remember all the amazing things given to us by this high school, and the even more amazing things that we have yet to experience in our future that South shaped and prepared us for. Sitting here today, bask in the applause, the accomplishment, the sound of your name as it is announced as a graduate of South Stanly, and as you take in the moment remember fondly the memories, but don’t get mired down in the past regrets.
Look ahead to the future focused on your purpose but don’t worry too much about what you cannot entirely control. Be like the golden retriever in the poem I mentioned earlier and “unsnare time’s warp.”
Enjoy this moment everyone — parents, grandparents, teachers, faculty, and Class of 2024 members —this is not an ending, it’s the commencement of something greater. And more importantly, it’s a moment to be cherished together.
Congrats to you all, especially my fellow Class of 2024! GO BULLS!

Austin Aney
Bailey Arey
Matthew Armet
Tatyanna Bautista
Addie Benson-Riggs
Kylie Burgess
Madison Burleson
Jillian Butler
Ma’Hari Caple
Brianna Chastain
Jaylan Cole
Jalayah Collins
Makia Colson
Susana Crisanto Huete
Damien Crump
Emma Curlee
Matthew Deese
Luke Dennis
Dallas Farlow
Jerry Foreman
Jack Frashuer
Alissa Furr
Andrew Gaddy
Alina Garcia
Joshua Green
Lela Greene
Levi Greene
Zilon Harris
Ganon Harryman
Lane Hartsell
McCoy Hartsell
Riley Hathcock
Kevin Hatley
Terlinda Hill
Samantha Hinchliffe
Cadence Hinson
LaRyan Hinson
Mary Hinson
Kiersten Hollis
Carson Howell
Andrew Huggins
Joshawa Huneycutt
Kayden Huneycutt
Melinda Isenhour
Johnny Jacobs
Bryson James
Zoeyah Kluttz
Chance Lackey
Dakota Lemaire
Garrett Lomax
Dillon Luther
Addison Mansfield
Jaelen McCormick
Thomas McCray
Cortlyn McGuire
Dayna Miller
Henry Morris
Christian Morton
Keith Murphy
Johnathan Newman
Bryan Olea Cruz
Christopher Page
Tanvi Patel
Tristen Patterson
Elijah Pratt
Cristhofer Quintero Lopez
Ivy Reynolds
Tyler Rhodes
Julia Rogers
Zanai Najah-Rieck Rush
Allyson Rushing
Gabriela Salazar Guerrero
Michelle Sandy
Jackson Shedd
Amos Smith
Cadence Smith
Cassidy Smith
Kendall Smith
Dymond Snuggs
Jacksen Springer
Langston Springer
Kennedy Tarlton
Natalie Taylor
Dana Turner
Jacob Turner
Maddox Valler
Jayda Watkins
Paris Williams-Daniels
Aiden Wilson