Here is a quick look at each school and its graduation ceremony:
Walker High School
Walker High Senior Class President Andrew Harris encouraged his fellow classmates concerning the new chapter of their lives that would start following the school’s 102nd commencement program.
“I pray that you will have the courage to face the new challenges that life is going to place before you,” Harris said. “Whether these challenges are large or small, I know that you have what it takes to overcome them and be successful.”
The Class of 2012 at Walker High School included 155 graduating seniors, and Harris urged each of them to count on God in the future. After sharing Psalm 32:8, Harris told his fellow classmates, “You can always count on God, because He has proven himself to be true and faithful.”
— James Phillips
Oakman High School
Fifty-two seniors made up the Oakman High Class of 2012. The group made an exit from high school Friday night with its graduation ceremony.
Valedictorian Henry Burns told his fellow graduates to have courage in their future endeavors.
“Courage is having the strength and ability to continue even though the situation you have been placed in is frightening,” Burns said.
Burns said each of their teachers have provided the seniors with skills that should give them the courage to move forward in their lives.
Salutatorian Dylan Smith called all his classmates “winners” and dedicated his success in high school to his family.
“Without y’all, none of this is possible, and I love you all very much,” he said. “Words can not describe how grateful I am for y’all in my life. My only wish is to make you proud.”
— James Phillips
Parrish High School
The 31 seniors in Parrish High School’s Class of 2012 took time during their graduation exercises to remember a classmate who wasn’t there.
Kristen Avery would have been a member of this year’s graduating class but she was killed in a car accident in August 2010. Valedictorian Jaquis Yancey remembered Avery during her speech.
“Though we’ve faced a great tragedy when we lost one of our beloved friends and classmates, Kristen Avery, we have learned to lean on each other and comfort one another throughout it all,” she said.
Cody Ervin, Parrish’s salutatorian, thanked the school’s faculty for their hard work.
“I want to thank all the teachers that have put all of this work into teaching us and putting up with us on a daily basis,” Ervin said. “We never would have made it this far without you.”
— James Phillips
Curry High School
Curry High School's Class President and valedictorian Kaitlyn Aaron Wilson gave her fellow seniors advice for the future.
"Attach yourself to your dreams and allow them to become reality," she said. "Some opportunities only come once so seize them. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them. Life is short — don't let it pass you by."
Each of the seniors in Curry High School's Class of 2012 wore a green ribbon during the ceremony to remember Debbe Vines, the school's bookkeeper who passed away eight months ago.
"The memory that has shaped us into the class we are today and that will forever live in our hearts: Ms. Vines. We all grew from the vines," Wilson said as she and the other seniors held up two fingers in the air, making a V.
— Daniel Gaddy
Cordova High School
The Cordova High School class of 2012 experienced a number of changes in the four years leading up to Friday night’s graduation ceremony at Hudson-Kirby Field.
Valedictorian Tiffany Jones reminded her classmates of switching from the old high school to the new one, getting a new principal and helping their community recover from the April 27 tornado.
Jones also pointed out that the seniorS had spent 2,340 days — an equivalent of one third of their lives — in school.
“All along the way, you look forward to becoming a senior and having that moment when you receive your diploma and finally get to say that you are done,” Jones said. “Yes, graduation is important, but it is not what matters the most. What matters is how you decide to spend those six and a half years.”
Jones ended her speech with a quote by Paul Freund in which the former Harvard Law professor encouraged graduates to occasionally exchange their square-shaped mortarboards for bold minds and sombreros.
“So to my fellow graduates, let us go out, put our sombreros on and show the world what the class of 2012 is made of,” Jones said.
After thanking parents and teachers for their support, salutatorian Katrina Gonzalez shared a word of encouragement with underclassmen.
“I challenge you to reach for your goals and never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something. Be who you are and shine,” Gonzalez said.
— Jennifer Cohron
Dora High School
Dora’s class of 2012 marked graduation night in their blue and gold as 127 seniors said goodbye on Dora’s football field Friday night.
Salutatorian Kayla Trammell told her fellow graduates to never settle for less and never forget the memories they made together. She quoted a life lesson learned from Winnie the Pooh, where Pooh promises Christopher Robin that he will never forget him, “not even when I’m a hundred.”
Memories were also the focus of valedictorian Andrew Alexander’s speech. He recapped the last four years of memories, detailing the journey from scared freshman on Myspace, through getting a driver’s license, sports and academic accomplishments and scattered in inside jokes and specific teachers that shaped the class.
“Tonight is the end of this era of memories,” Alexander said.
Alexander also urged his classmates to appreciate the journey and the people that help them along the way. Without that appreciation, he said, none of the future accomplishments will mean anything. He concluded by thanking those that helped him and his classmates through high school.
“To end I’d just like to say thank you, on behalf of our class, to all the parents, family, teachers and friends who have supported us throughout the past four years,” Alexander said. “We couldn’t have done it without you. And, to my classmates, it has been fun. Remember, we are, and forever will be, the class of 2012.”
— Rachel Davis
Carbon Hill High School
Carbon Hill High School’s 2012 graduating class held their commencement exercises Friday night in the school’s gymnasium.
Carbon Hill’s valedictorian was Brianna Kendrick, and Courtney Kelley was the school’s salutatorian. Class officers were Nikki Alexander, president; Kristy Smith, vice president and Ashley Tubbs, treasurer.
Principal Gypsy Stovall presented the school’s 85 seniors with their diplomas.
— W. Brian Hale
Lynn High School
Lynn’s graduating class of 2012 closed out their high school careers with commencement ceremonies at the school’s Posey Memorial Field Friday night.
Thirty-six graduates made up this year’s class.
“We’ve finally made it,” Lynn valedictorian Katelyn Dickinson said. “In the past 13 years, no one in this graduating class could have predicted that the years would have come and gone so quickly.
“Graduation is not the end, it’s the beginning. As we part ways, each one of us will have a completely different future ahead. Though there will be obstacles in each path, you must strive to overcome them. Always stay true to yourself and you will go far. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to if you have the determination to do so.”
Lynn salutatorian Breana Cole recognized her classmates.
“It has been an honor to spend these last 13 years with you all,” Cole said. “I’ll never forget all the memories we made or the crazy things we did. Thank you all for making those memories possible.”
— Johnathan Bentley
Winston County High School
Winston County High School’s 2012 graduating class began a new chapter of their lives with commencement ceremonies at Malcolm-Blake Stadium Friday night.
A total of 75 students, all donned in purple and gold, made up this year’s class.
“This has been a journey full of ups and downs, triumphs, and trials, and many ‘I don’t think I’ll ever get through this’ moments,” valedictorian Anna Kate West said. “But, we did get through it, and we did make it. I would like to thank a few people for helping me get to this moment.”
With her high school career over, West said her focus is the future.
“We get the opportunity to be whatever we want. We have the opportunity to begin each day with a purpose. Some of us will go to college, others the military, some right into the workplace. No matter where we go we have the power to choose who we want to be.”
Salutatorian Rachel Roberson said graduation was the start of a new, exciting journey.
“Many people say high school was the best time of their lives. I challenge you to not let this be our best years. Look back with joy and peace of mind, but realize we have the rest of our lives to create more funny moments, new friendships, and a lifetime of memories. This is not the end, but the beginning of our journeys,” Roberson said.
— Johnathan Bentley