Hundreds of students from Carbon Hill, Cordova, Curry, Dora, Oakman, Parrish, Walker and Meek high schools took their final steps in their respective school to obtain their diplomas. The students will now enter the next chapter of their lives, whether that be entering college, the workforce or the military.
CARBON HILL HIGH SCHOOL
More than 90 seniors graduated from Carbon Hill High School on Friday night in the school’s gym. The seniors listened as Valedictorian Mandolin Madison urged them to look toward the future and take the lessons learned at Carbon Hill with them as they venture into whatever their future holds for them.
“We can only hope that these experiences, both good and bad, and the hard work we have put forth have helped shape us into capable adults; and will also help us be prepared to face the many challenges and obstacles that will regularly show themselves throughout our lives,” Madison said.
Salutatorian Erin Downey also discussed the challenges that life will bring, including moving on from the comfort of high school and the familiar places and people.
“Embracing the future and facing the challenges ahead sometimes means giving up what we have now,” Downey said.
— James Phillips
DORA HIGH SCHOOL
More than 100 Dora High School seniors, draped in blue and gold, walked across the field at Horace Roberts Field Friday night to accept their diplomas and close the book on their high school experience.
Valedictorian Carrie Weldon thanked her parents and the others in attendance before encouraging her fellow students to follow their own heart.
“Tonight is just the first of many accomplishments we hope to achieve in our lives,” Weldon said. “I think the class of 2013 can achieve anything they want to and I wish all of you luck in your future endeavors.”
Salutatorian Kayla Mahaffey confessed her nervousness about having to speak at graduation. She then marvelled at the accomplishment and perseverance of her classmates though hard times before wrapping up by urging her classmates to enjoy these last moments together.
“This may very well be the last time in our entire lives that we see each other, as both time and circumstance draw people away from us,” Mahaffey said. “Therefore, it is important that we cherish these last few hours together, because for some, this means goodbye.”
– Rachel Davis
OAKMAN HIGH SCHOOL
More than 50 seniors dressed in royal blue walked across the stage to accept their high school diplomas from principal Patrick Gann on Friday night at Hosea Collins Field. The students listened as Valedictorian Norma-Jean Therlot urged them to follow their dreams and look forward to the future.
“Everyone has dreams they think about, even the people in the stands do. Even if it is your dream car, house or even a job you desire,” Therlot said. “No matter what price that dreams costs, I think it is time to go after our dreams even if it takes you years to accomplish it.”
She also asked those in attendance to observe a moment of silence for Alex Ladner and Amanda Davis, classmates who passed away before graduation.
Salutatorian Lindsey Harbison also honored the classmates who weren’t there in her speech, in addition to thanking her classmates, the parents and school faculty for the lessons learned over the years.
“Not only did you teach us things like math, science, English and reading, you taught us respect, responsibility and perseverance,” Harbison said. “You instilled in us a sense of pride and love for our school and our community. We are wildcats, and we promise that everywhere we go we will always represent the O.”
— W. Brian Hale
CORDOVA HIGH SCHOOL
Four years of hard work started to pay off Friday night for the Cordova High School Class of 2013.
“I am sure you have heard us say, ‘We are adults so treat us like one” often. Well, it is time to kick us out and let us prove that we are indeed grown up now,” valedictorian Cruz Tidwell told the crowd that gathered at Hudson-Kirby Stadium.
After thanking the CHS faculty and staff and his family for their support, Tidwell reserved his final remarks for his classmates.
“We may not have been the closest friends, but we have developed into a family nonetheless. I wish nothing but the best for each of you and I know you will be successful in whatever you decided to do,” Tidwell said.
Salutatorian Caitlin Wiggins described graduation as a dream come true.
Wiggins recalled all the significant world and local events that she and her classmates had experienced — the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the construction of a new school and the destruction of their hometown on April 27, 2011.
“The class of 2013 will be bound together forever by the time we have spent together, the experiences we have shared together, the old Cordova that will always be in our memories and the new Cordova that lives in our dreams,” Wiggins said.
“This class has seen its share of nightmares, and yet our class refuses to be fearful of those nightmares but instead believes in the dreams.”
— Jennifer Cohron
PARRISH HIGH SCHOOL
The purple tornados class of 2013 walked across the field at Harland-Nelson Stadium Friday night as they said goodbye and moved on to the next phase in their lives. Valedictorian Haylie Wilges talked about being accepted by her classmates when she transferred to Parrish in sixth grade as well as the talent and dedication displayed by her fellow seniors.
“Please do not ever be afraid to follow your dreams or go after your goals,” Wilges said. “Each of you have the potential to achieve anything in life that you desire, and I will you all the greatest happiness in whatever life has in store.”
Salutatorian Cheyenne Sanders reminded the students of the good, bad and funny times they had together over the years and urged them to take those memories into whatever their future may hold.
“But, as you remember all of those things, look toward the future,” Sanders said. “No matter where we go or what we do in the future, we will always be Parrish High School’s graduating class of 2011. Always remember — we are Parrish, we are family.”
— W. Brian Hale
WALKER HIGH SCHOOL
The largest graduating class in the area, Walker High School’s class of 2013 consisted of more than 150 seniors who received their diplomas Friday night at Kiro-Gambrell Field. Senior class president Joseph Harris thanked the family, friends and teachers who contributed to the success of the class before addressing his classmates.
“...I am proud to say that I have experienced this part of my life with all of you,” Harris said. “I am not going to say that our high school experiences were perfect. I am not going to say that we probably do not have some regrets or missed opportunities. Every one of us went through the good times as well as the rough patches. Nevertheless, I would not trade my high school experience for anything else.”
Senior class vice president Anna Nicholson compared the emotions of leaving school with the trepidation felt when they began school 13 years earlier. “Just as before, we are filled with both excitement and anticipation,” Nicholsons said. “We are anxious and excited about beginning a new chapter in our lives. We are filled with pride and a sense of accomplishment for all that we have achieved.”
— Johnathan Bentley
CURRY HIGH SCHOOL
Commencement exercises for the 132 members of the Curry High School Class of 2013 was held Friday on the football field at the Hudson-O’Rear Stadium, located on the school’s campus.
Ryan Gilmore, the 2013 salutorian, reminded his fellow classmates they had reached a milestone and would soon dive from the nest and test their wings.
“I believe we will soar like eagles. I serve a God that tells me we will, and I would like to congratulate you all, because you sit where are for one reason, and that is your own choice,” Gilmore said. “You chose to get up in the mornings, to pass your classes, to prepare for your future, and that takes a great deal of courage and perserverance.”
Gilmore told his fellow graduates that proving the world wrong and making something of themselves is the same thing, just on a much greater scale.
“It is not an easy task, and sometimes you will fall, but standing back up is what makes the difference. Do not live in fear of yourselves, because you can bring yourself down harder than anything on this planet,” Gilmore said. “On the other side of the coin, you can bring yourself up quicker that anyone. So stay postive to yourself and everyone around you, and I promise that it will take you where you want to go.”
Valedictorian Madison Elmore also reminded her classmates they were finishing a milestone in their lives, but graduation was not the end, only the beginning. “Today, we need to acknowledge where we are, and then prepare to move on. We are the next generation of thinkers and doers, and we are eagerly awaiting to begin our journey,” Gilmore said. “And we need to dare to dream all that we can be tomorrow. So this is the challenge I am giving you tonight, dare to be all you can be, dare to chase your chosen career, dare to excel, dare to show compassion, dare to make your mark on this world, dare to be the best you can possibly be, and then do it. May God bless you and all your future endeavors.”
— Elane Jones
MEEK HIGH SCHOOL
A graduation ceremony for the 33 members of the Meek High School Class of 2013 was held at 6 p.m. Friday in the school’s gymnasium.
Salutatorian Jordan Romine welcomed everyone to the commencement exercises, and thanked all the teachers, administrators, family and friends who were there to share the proud moment with all the graduating seniors.
“We deeply appreciate the constant effort of our teachers and administrators, and the tireless support from our family and friends that has instilled in us a distinctive education and a sound etiquette. It is because of these things we are able to confidently begin this new passage,” Romine said.
He reminded his fellow graduates, that throughout the years, in the midst of the comfort of everyone around them, they had tried to plan for the future that was ahead of them. “We are here today to begin our journey to that future. We will, no doubt, face trials as we go through this journey,” Romine said. “But the Word of God will give us comfort. All in all, we are prepared to begin this uncertain but prosperous journey, because of all that the people around us have done.”
Valedictorian Chaselyn Langley also reminded her classmates that although the journey to graduation had been long, and sometimes very hard, overall it had been pretty amazing.
“Our time at Meek High School has forever bonded us as friends and family. The memories we have shared can never be taken away, and the bonds our time together has formed can never be broken,” Langley reminded her fellow graduates. “Graduation is a sad day for so many people, but today is also the one of the happiest days of our lives. We are rewarded for thirteen years of hard work.” Langley reminded her classmates they get to see the people they love will move on to pursue their dreams. “When we leave here today, some of us will get ready for college, some will begin their careers, and eventually we will all have our own families and watch them the same way our tearful moms are watching us,” Langley said. “But I can’t be sad when I know that great things are in store for us. Classmates, I love you and I am going to miss you so much, but I hope to hear about all of the things you accomplish in the future.”
— Elane Jones