The morning was chilly at Mount Airy High School’s graduation Saturday, but the enthusiasm and love expressed seemed to make a large propane heater on the stage just symbolic as the Granite Bears Class of 2013 was honored.
Where: Wallace Shelton Stadium.
When: Saturday at 9 a.m.
Number of graduates: 140
Speakers: Valedictorian Jordan Jackson and Salutatorian Elizabeth Dinkins.
What the Speakers said: Dinkins told her classmates graduation was a celebration of the past while looking forward to the future. “First and foremost count our blessings,” said Dinkins. She took time out to honor members of her family who had served in the United States military and recognized the sacrifice of veterans and active duty personnel who sacrifice to keep America safe. She said the graduates were grateful for life lessons as well as academic lessons taught them by their classroom teachers.
“Today is a day of laughter and celebration of milestones that made our journey a success,” continued Dinkins. She said graduation should also involve a lot of reflection on the past and likened the future-waiting graduates to hiking. She explained that wilderness trails use switchbacks to make the climb manageable instead of going up a mountain in a straight line. “Without switchbacks the path would be too steep and that is like life,” said Dinkins. She said set backs and obstacles are not failures but opportunity from adversity. She also encouraged classmates to persevere because the hardest part of a mountain top is the boulder field just before the peak.
“I hate Mount Airy High School. I hate the students, teachers and administrators,” said Jackson at the beginning of her speech. “Never have I been so upset about leaving a place. Never have I enjoyed something so much I wanted time to stop. How do you look at something you love and say goodbye.”
Jackson shared memories of teachers, sports and dances with classmates in an effort to find out where she had lost herself. “Come to think of it. Maybe all of the places here where I lost myself are exactly where I found myself,” concluded Jackson. “Whatever you decide to go may you find peace and happiness doing the things you love the most. No matter how many memories I rattle off nothing will do it justice. It’s inescapable. As you fell comfortable somewhere time pulls it effortlessly away. I’m scared. You (classmates) are scared. Perhaps fear is a type of motivator. The reality is I can’t see the end of my road so I can’t predict yours. It is never too late to do exactly what you wish. Mount Airy High School, I love you. You’ve given us the courage to succeed.”
Overheard: Parents yelling “put your shades on” to their children. One graduate yelled at the stands “I told you I’d make it.” Amanda Culler was urged on to receive her diploma by the loudest air horn of the morning until Benjamin Hicks was honored with a horn from somewhere behind the field that sounded like it was from a locomotive. “Git R done” and “Da Bears” were yelled as well as a variety of nicknames.
Recognitions: According to School Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little, around $1.4 million in grants and scholarships went to the Class of 2013. The Bear Pride Award for students who exhibited integrity, balanced living and leadership potential went to Parley Gentry and Jacqueline Cortes. The perfect attendance award went to Kristin Collins for 13 years with no absences. Community Leader Awards went to nine students who accumulated 160 volunteer hours over four years of high school. Students earning this honor were Makayla Benfield, Emily Brim, Elizabeth Dinkins, Abby Ghee, Anna Jade Hughes, Jordan Jackson, Abby Turney and Garrett VanHoy. Students recognized for completing the Nursing Fundamentals Class were Makayla Benfield, Olivia Cochran Smith, Taylor Dollyhigh, Pable Garcia, Kayla Goins, Benjamin Hicks, Hayle Quesinberry, Lena Scott, Jessica Spencer, Jessica Taylor and Abbey Turney.
What Graduates did: Students placed acrylic jewels in a goblet marked Class of 2013 as well as dancing, singing and celebrating as they received their diplomas. The highlight of the ceremony was a flash mob initiated by Jackson and encompassed a variety of dances to a medley of songs. Several cans of silly string were sprayed on classmates after hats were tossed in the air at the end of the ceremony.
Notables in attendance: School Superintendent Dr. Gregroy Little, Board of Education Chairwoman Wendy Carriker and Vice Chairman Tim Matthews and board members Amy Bledsoe, Ben Cooke, Mike Hiatt and Phil Thacker.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.