RONDA — As Principal Jodi Weatherman declared the East Wilkes High School Class of 2016 graduated, a cheer rolled through the crowd as the graduating students tossed their tassels into the air and celebrated in a storm of silly string and confetti.
The graduation happened Friday evening on the East Wilkes High School football field. The students walked out onto the field to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.” After the initial march, class president Faith Trivette welcomed everybody to the ceremony.
“You guys, we made it. I’m honored to be here tonight and graduating with my fellow classmates. I’m sure that most of us are thrilled to be leaving this place and starting new chapters of our lives. I’m also sure that a few us will miss the four years we spent together at this place.
“The place where our dope football team broke record. The place with the forgotten agriculture department that actually kicks butt. The place with literally the best band ever. The place where we made the student section the best it has ever been. The place where having a parking pass is actually a little bit more important than passing grades. The place where homecoming was a fiasco and thought it would ruin our lives. The place where holding the door and lending a helping hand is never a burden. This crazy and beautiful place that became our home: East Wilkes High School,” Trivette said.
Brooke Schubart stepped up to the podium and introduced the ceremony’s special guests — Julie Triplet, technology director of Wilkes County Schools, and Randall Holbrook, Wilkes County Board of Education member. After the introductions, a moment of silence was held as student Morgan Courville lit a candle in memory of Rachel Evans. The East Wilkes Madrigals choir sang “The Prayer” with accompaniment by Hannah Harrold.
Following the musical interlude, student Lydia Burcham made an address talking about life’s lemons.
“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. We’ve heard it a million time. It’s a cliched saying that many of us take for granted and you’ve probably never stopped to realize that it’s a wise proverb that tells us to make the best of any situation. In the real world, the bottom line is that we will experience hardship. We will get the unexpected curve-ball, we will have our hearts broken and we will make mistakes. The final verdict, life is hard. Life is hard for everybody, even for the advantaged.”
Following the address was the presentation of the senior class with counselors Kimberly Forester and Tosha Mathis as each student was called up to the podium to receive his or her diploma and take a photo.
After the presentation, student Kayala Mounce gave her address, talking about her time fitting in and reflecting on the challenges she faced in high school.
“It was when I was doing a practice interview with Ms. Forester that I realized what I wanted to talk about. She asked, ‘what was one of the biggest challenges you’ve ever faced in high school?’ Everyone knows that high school is filled with cliques and groups. There are the nerds, the popular crowd, the country people, the musicians, and the list goes on. I realized that as a freshman, I was overwhelmed and not sure what clique or group I wanted to be a part of. So as time went on and I prayed about it, I decided that I did not need to be in any particular group. I would just try to be friendly to everyone and follow the Lord’s will for my life. Looking back on my high school career, I realized that that was the decision that has made me successful. Today, I challenge each and everyone one of you in the class of 2016 to do the same as you take on college, a career, or even the military.”
Student Brianna Wilmoth gave her thanks to her parents, her teachers and her fellow classmates for helping her and the class of 2016 grow.
“I never believed my parents when they told me to enjoy high school because it would be the quickest four years of my life, but as I stand here today, it seems that they were right. I guess they do know what they’re talking about sometimes. The past four years have been quite a journey. There have been many challenges; biology class, the graduation project, and deciding what to do with the rest of your life were only a few, and there have been many successes. I would like to thank the people who have helped us through those challenges. Our parents, for supporting us in all that we have done, for loving us and helping us reach this point in our lives. Our teachers, for helping us grow and develop as individuals. Nothing builds character like staying up to 2 a.m. to finish homework. And most importantly, the members of the class. We have grown together and made memories that will last a lifetime as we blaze our own trail, whether by choice, need, or because we had to and we’re strong because of it.”
As the ceremony came to a close, Dr. Jodi Weatherman, principal of East Wilkes High School, gave this advice to the graduating class of 2016: “I will look to hearing about your future challenges and how you will challenge, but first I have a challenge for you. I challenge you to live your life with purpose. Time really does fly by. Only four short years ago, you were entering high school as little freshman. I remember you. Now you are about to walk right out into the world. Take just a minute. Look to the person to your right and to your left. Let it all soak in. And lastly, live in the moment.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.