DOBSON — Surry Early College High School of Design’s Commencement Ceremony had the traditional trimmings including pomp and circumstance, but it also had the atmosphere of a family sharing proud memories around the supper table.
Where: Surry Community College gym
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.
Number of graduates: 46
Speaker: Students, faculty and Principal Celia Hodges all shared memories at various times during the ceremony.
What the Speakers said: Teacher Ricky Davis opened the first round of faculty memories about students as student names were called out and family present was encouraged to stand. Davis’ comments that five years with this class had flown by were echoed by many of his counterparts. He laughingly referred to the seniors and super seniors as “jar head freshmen” when they began at the school and pointed out talents which would be missed after they graduated. A frequent comment from faculty was that inspiration worked both ways with students often inspiring them to be better. Davis praised the students perseverance and said in spite of their ups and downs they were graduates.
Other teachers jokingly remarked how the Class of 2013 enjoyed prom and field trips, especially the ones to the Outer Banks and New York City. Other faculty mentioned how much it meant to some students to be the first in their families to graduate with college honors. Graduate Olivia McAuley’s reference to Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” served as a motto for the class because it mentions taking the road less traveled which makes all the difference.
Hodges said she most admired how each student had overcome their own special obstacles in their own way and had fun doing it.
What the Graduates said: Graduate Jacob Simpson urged his classmates to enjoy the moment and to recall all the hard work and late nights studying earned them their honors. He recalled being a high school student trying to find his way on a college campus and having to run from the last parking spot available across campus to make class at the Early College and then running across campus again to get to his college classes on time. “We did it,” he exclaimed.
Classmate Elizabeth Davis said she felt she was not leaving behind teachers at graduation but she was leaving friends. She praised her teachers for making sure they learned as well as had fun learning and valued their honesty, humor and welcoming smiles. She said the faculty had cared and fought for them as well as providing them a place to grow and said they would be dearly remembered and missed by the Class of 2013.
Brittney Mauck paraphrased President John F. Kennedy and told her classmates, “Ask not what your diploma can do for you but what you can do with your diploma.” Olivia McAuley’s comments focused on graduates being responsible for their future and urged them to stand up for what they believe in and to have an open mind.
In an informal memorial ceremony for their late classmate Rachel Peters, students took turns reading memories of the teen which had been collected and written down. The comments praised Peters’ compassion and the humor of the soft spoken student. One student comment was that while they were leaving something at graduation, they would also be taking the memory of Peters with them.
Overheard: Way to go Porkchop; you go girl, and whooo Milo were yelled out from the audience. At one point a small baby cried and this drew an “awww” of sympathy from the faculty and audience. Families got to stand at the processional, recessional and as their child was being talked about by faculty. One parent came in through a side door with a large amount of helium-filled balloons with different designs spelling out “Congrats grad” on them and carefully hid them under the bleachers. Afterwards, participants and notables met near the clock tower on campus to talk and for pictures.
What the Graduates did: Jacob Simpson had the audience clapping to a rousing version of “Wildwood Flower” played on the electric guitar. Nicholas Flippen sang a solo and a duet with faculty member Sarah Lawrence. Graduates also showered Hodges with a series of necklaces as they received their diplomas.
Notables in attendance: Board of Education member Sue Stone, Co-Chairman Brian Gates and Chairman Earlie Coe, Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves, Assistant Superintendents Charles Graham and Dr. Terri Mosley and Surry Community College liaison Melissa Atkinson.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.