Family and friends filled the football stadium at West Stokes High School Saturday morning to commemorate this year’s 2018 graduation.
Principal Kevin Spainhour congratulated the 191 graduates who earned $3.9 million dollars in scholarships.
“Each of you will receive a diploma,” Spainhour said. “But the only unique thing about it is that it has your name on it. Graduates, I want you to know it signifies your journey and your path to this day. Although the diplomas may look the same, the path and the journey does not.”
The principal told the crowd he was proud of this year’s class of seniors who persevered and overcame obstacles. He recognized the students who came in as freshmen determined to achieve their academic goals and the athletes who achieved success and have committed to play at the collegiate level.
“We have some that have pursued a path towards service. They have found ways to give back and serve our community. Then, we have those that sit among us and have chosen a very distinguished path of service. They have chosen to serve our great country in the armed forces,” he said over a round of applause.
“Some have done school and have done work. It consistently impresses me that there are students that come to school from 8:15 until 3:15 every day, stay committed to that, and then get in their vehicles and drive off campus, change clothes and go to a real job that starts at four o’clock and they don’t get done until 10 or 11 at night. Some do that by choice and some do that because they need to, and they need to for their families, their younger brother or sisters or their grandparents. That is an accomplishment.”
Stokes County Superintendent Dr. Brad Rice encouraged the graduates to take risks.
He quoted Mark Twain who said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
Hannah Nicole Alley, this year’s valedictorian, thanked her family and friends and recognized the important role they played in her life.
To her fellow Wildcats she said, “We have been waiting for this day for 13 years. Standing in front of you I’m a little tearful.”
She shared a personal story of her fear of heights and how she faced it head on when she decided to zipline.
“I was strapped to a harness. I was fine, excited even, until I was sitting on the edge. My legs were dangling on the side of the platform and I was looking straight down. It was terrifying. This is because I knew I was the only person able to push myself off of that ledge. Today we are all sitting on a ledge about to push off to the unknown. There is a little bit of fear,” she admitted.
In high school, there were schedules and plans clearly laid out.
“The real world isn’t like that,” she said. “After a little hesitation, I did push myself off that ledge. For those 15 seconds that I was gliding through the air, I was free. Although my impact wasn’t as graceful as I’d like, I wouldn’t have changed the experience at all. The situation taught me, sometimes you just have to have faith and leap. It may be one of the best things you ever do.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.