RONDA — As the sun set on the mild-weathered evening of June 5, graduates of the East Wilkes High School class of 2015 began filing into the football stadium that was packed with supporters.
The East Wilkes band played the traditional Pomp and Circumstance under the direction of Jennifer Weddington as the students continued to their seats. Once seated, a hush came over the crowd as an introduction was given by James Welborn. Welborn began by thanking everyone involved in the students’ journey from elementary to high school, including administrators, teachers and guardians.
Special guests Mark Byrd, assistant superintendent of Wilkes County Schools, and Randall Holbrook, board member for the Wilkes County Board of Education, were acknowledged for their presence by Michelle Cummings.
The EWHS Madrigals performed “For Good” by Stephen Schwartz with accompanist Tammy Prevette.
An address was given to the crowd by Haley Hodges, in which she remarked on the quickness with which these years have passed her by. “It honestly doesn’t feel like it’s been four years,” said Hodges. “I remember my middle school graduation where my mom said, ‘if you think these years have gone by fast, just wait.’ She was right.”
Hodges continued to encourage her classmates in accomplishing as much as they can in their lives, but not to become so busy that they forget to enjoy the simple things.
“We’ve accomplished things we would have never imagined in our search for who we are,” said Hodges, who continued to say that the struggles and overcoming challenges helped shaped them into who they have become.
In closing, Hodges reminded her classmates to remember a quote from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” that states, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Each student was then called forth to receive a diploma.
After returning to their seats, Abby Burchette shared her takeaways from her high school career which included the knowledge that it’s OK not to be involved in everything. “Don’t feel obliged to join every club or take every office,” said Burchette. “At the end of the day, the people that still care will always be there.”
As far as her regrets during her high school career, Burchette shared that she wished she had spent more time engaging with fellow classmates instead of using every moment of school time to complete projects.
She continued her address by speaking about the power of a passionate life and encouraged everyone to find something they are passionate about and to pursue it. Burchette shared her life’s passion in dedicating her life to Jesus Christ and gave an offer to share more about her salvation, to which the crowd gave a loud applause.
“I hope everyone will take these words to heart and know that you had an impact on me,” said Burchette in closing. “Thank you for shaping me into the person I am today.”
Daisy Sullivan offered closing remarks by thanking everyone involved, both in attendance and not.
EWHS Principal Dr. Jodi Weatherman offered a few words during the pronouncement of graduates. “I want to thank God for allowing me to serve as your principal,” said Weatherman, who went on to explain that she would keep the speech short to refrain from becoming emotional, given that her own daughter was among the graduating class.
In her closing advice, Weatherman encouraged the graduates to live life to the fullest but also slow down and take time to enjoy it. She also recommended relying on friends and family and not forget when to ask for help. As she wished them all luck in the real world, Weatherman announced that they may move their tassels to the left.
In celebration, graduates threw their caps while a burst of confetti was shot out into the air.
Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.