DOBSON — Surry Central High School’s commencement exercises Friday night followed tradition in many ways, but the event had a decidedly high-tech flavor.
Yes, there were the usual speeches and the much-anticipated conferring of diplomas, but how many times in history has a graduation audience ever witnessed the student body president making a selfie during her address?
That was exactly what Danielle Key did in front of a crowd jammed into the Golden Eagles gym to see 169 students walk across the stage to receive the coveted diplomas, who later continued the stroll into the rest of their lives.
Key paused during her remarks to engage in the popular pastime of taking a self-portrait photograph using her camera phone, as those in attendance laughed and applauded during the ceremony held inside amid a threat of rain.
“As you get older, time does go by faster,” she said. “That is why we need to embrace every moment.”
“We were here when they made the switch from whiteboards to SMARTboards,” another speaker on the program, senior class president McKayla Creed, said of the technological advances in classrooms which she and fellow graduates had experienced during their time in school.
“We all remember when we said we wanted to be astronauts and firefighters when we grew up,” Creed added.
But along with such technology-oriented observations, a solemn appreciation of what the graduates had accomplished academically leading up to Friday night’s milestone also took center stage. And there was also the bittersweet acknowledgement among speakers that an enjoyable and impressionable time — one’s high school years — was coming to an end.
“This could possibly be the last time some of us see each other,” Creed said from a podium on a stage while looking at her classmates seated in the center of the gym, surrounded by parents, grandparents, other family members and friends in the bleachers.
“If you have a crush on someone, you better tell them — because they may be married the next time we see them.”
Principal Celia Hodges said the Surry Central Class of 2015 had left a distinct impression on her with its accomplishments.
Included was a big football victory over North Surry which allowed the Golden Eagle gridders to be featured as the team of the week by a Winston-Salem television station, among other sports accomplishments.
Hodges also mentioned how the school’s JROTC unit had achieved an “exceeded standards” evaluation, and seeing many of the seniors dancing the night away at the school prom.
“Thank you for the memories,” the principal told the group.
“This is what high school is all about — making memories.”
Hodges said Friday night’s ceremony represented the end of one era and the beginning of another, while indicating that many have been well-prepared for the journey ahead.
The 169 class members as a whole logged a grade point average of 3.25. Seventy-three percent of them will further their education, both at state institutions and faraway campuses including the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Brigham Young University.
To date, the graduates have been awarded scholarships totaling $2,286,442.
Thirteen percent of the class plans to enter the work force, with 2 percent to join some branch of the military.
One senior, Savannah Leigh Collins, was recognized for four years of perfect attendance at SCHS.
And in addition to the diploma, each grad received a special gift as he or she left the stage: a note from a staff member and a yellow rose to always remind them of their time as a Surry Central Golden Eagle.
Friday’s event included multiple references to the hard work and sacrifices the students had made to become graduates, which Creed, the senior class president, said would not have been possible without a support staff of parents, teachers, administrators and others.
Their efforts were geared toward making the school as could as it could be while also looking forward to doing the same for their communities and the planet in the future, speakers said.
“This is the time to celebrate and honor our achievements,” Key, the student body president, said shortly after taking her selfie.
“It really bothers me when people say there is no hope for our generation,” she added.
“We are free to be anything in a world that has everything.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.