Where: North Stokes High School football field
When: Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m.
Number of Graduates: 102
What the speakers said: Valedictorian Alexa Moorefield thanked the friends, family members, and teachers that helped her through high school. Moorefield said she could not have gotten as far as she did without their support and encouragement. She told the graduating class, “Be proud of your past and where you came from.”
Moorefield said graduation represented a “new beginning” and a chance to leave what is known behind and embrace a completely “unknown” future. “I encourage each of you to go confidently out into the world and be the person you want to be,” she said.
She finished her speech with the words of Dr. Seuss, “[You can] steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
Salutatorian Tyler Cromer talked about the nature of change in his speech. “Change is a highly influential word,” he said. “Change is not just a word that is thrown around in political campaigns.” Cromer urged his graduating class to look back at all the changes that occurred in high school and to look to a future that will be full of change.
“It’s simply mind-boggling to think of all the changes that have occurred in a seemingly short time,” Cromer said.
What administrators said: Principal Nathan Rasey said that when he looked on the graduating class four years ago when they were just freshmen, many were nervous and not ready to enter high school. At that time, he urged the class to cherish their time in high school because the time would “pass quickly.” Rasey said he was proud of the graduating class and urged them to “never stop learning.” He ended his speech with the words, “Once a Viking, always a Viking.”
Stokes County Superintendent Ronnie Mendenhall said that there were several things he wanted the senior class to remember. First, he urged the students to always have high expectations. Second, never accept mediocrity. Third, never take a backseat to anybody. Lastly, “It’s a great day to be alive.” Mendenhall’s speech showcased the idea that with hard work, anything is possible.
“You can do anything in your life and be successful,” he said.
Most inspirational moment: English teacher Nick Brandes told the graduating class that life is not always easy. He painted a picture of life as a series of challenges that test you. “Life will be difficult,” he said, in his speech. “Life will beat you down,” but the person that comes out on the other side will be a person of “substance.” In a world that often has a hard edge, Brandes said it was important to keep trying to “find the beauty and kindness in the world.”
Brandes ended his speech with one of his favorite Star Wars quotes, “May the force be with you.”
What the graduates did: Released green and white balloons midway through the commencement ceremony, after North Stokes’ chorus sang, “Lean on Me.”
Gathered near the football field house after the ceremony to throw their graduation caps in the air.
Gave each other one last hug before parting their separate ways for an indeterminable amount of time.
What the crowd did: Gathered with their graduating seniors before the ceremony and took pictures.
Watched attentively as loved ones crossed the stage to get their diplomas.
Overheard: Students talked with their friends before the commencement ceremony. Many commented on the fact that graduation was a bittersweet experience and that leaving behind North Stokes High School would not be easy.
Track standout and future engineering student at N.C. State, Travis Sexton, said that he enjoyed his time at North Stokes High School. “It was definitely a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ll have these memories with me.”
Salutatorian Tyler Cromer said he finally feels ready to move on. “I’m ready to do new things,” he said.
Recognitions: Principal Rasey read the list of scholarship winners and asked them to stand at the end of the ceremony. He pointed out that this year’s recipients received about $1.2 million in scholarships and financial aid. This year’s list included about 30 individuals that received scholarships.