Heart to face the future

Published 1:40 pm Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Saturday morning marked a major milestone in the lives of Central High School’s Class of 2018 as commencement exercises proceeded in the school’s gymnasium with emphases on thinking big, being kind and a heart that leads to success in life.

“The past four years have created many memories,” senior Nate Nowlin said in his welcome to family, friends, teachers, administrators, school board members and county supervisors in attendance. “Individually the experiences are unique for each of us, but together, this will always be a common bond for being members of the Central High School Class of 2018.”

Senior Brittany Tomlinson read a poem that encouraged fond reflection on high school and a fearless approach to the future.

Lunenburg County Public Schools Superintendent Charles Berkley gave an address that put perspective on what the Class of 2018 has achieved.

“I look back today on your long journey, a journey that started with small, tentative steps as a kindergartener,” he said. “I look out into the sea of purple and gold, I see how you’ve progressed, possessing pride and the confidence of a high school graduate. It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of your journey, a journey filled with wonderful memories of all those who have supported you throughout your education in Lunenburg County.”

Central High School Principal John Long recognized the class valedictorian and salutatorian and then handed out a couple of other awards.

“The Board of Education seal is awarded to students who complete the requirements for a standard or advanced studies diploma with a grade-point average of 4.0 on an unweighted scale,” he said. “Two of our graduates have met this requirement.”

Those students were Tomlinson and Kaitlyn Jones.

He also recognized Tomlinson as the recipient of the Citizenship Award, handed out by Central’s faculty and staff to honor a senior who exemplifies the spirit of the community by volunteering and giving selflessly.

To begin his address to the Class of 2018, Long quoted “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, highlighting the importance of the balance between opposites.

“Only you control how you view your circumstances,” he said. “I would give the Class of 2018 this one piece of advice: (In) the pursuit of your dreams, you will find that most of us don’t reach our life’s ambitions on our first try. You may fall short, you may fail, you may stumble, you may fall. Sylvester Stallone, the creator of the ‘Rocky’ franchise, said, ‘Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give, it’s about how many hits you can take and keep moving forward.’

Salutatorian Lauren Riley Jones opened her speech by thanking everyone in attendance for being there to support the graduating class.

“You’ve all had a profound effect on us, and I think it is safe to say our entire class thanks you,” she said.

She acknowledged that the last four years have included highs and lows.

“But they’ve only brought us closer,” she said. “Most of us have been friends and classmates for years, and these bonds will last a lifetime.”

She said the most important lesson she has taken from high school is that kindness matters.

Quoting Mother Teresa, Jones said, “‘Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.’ This is a quote that’s affected my day-to-day life, and I hope more people strive to live by it as well.”

Valedictorian John Benjamin Spencer expressed in his speech three main goals for his classmates to carry on with them:

1.) Think big.

2.) Express your opinions.

3.) Have fun with everything in life.

Addressing that first goal, Spencer said, “Whatever you do next, make sure you set goals for yourself and strive to be the best you can be. President Donald Trump is quoted as saying, ‘You have to think anyway, so why not think big?’”

He also noted that to think big, great willpower is key.

“(Marjorie) Powers, the Kenbridge resident who is 101 years young, said the following about having willpower: ‘To know what to do is wisdom, to know how to do it is skill, but knowing the two, will not get you through, unless it is backed by will.’”

Moving to his second point about expressing opinions, Spencer first highlighted the importance of unity.

“Former President Barack Obama said, ‘There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s a United States of America,’” Spencer said. “So going forward, we should all engage in civics and express our opinions on subjects that are important to us as a United States of America. Don’t be silent.”

Regarding having fun Spencer said, Steve Martin was quoted as saying, ‘A day without sunshine is, like, you know, night.’ But seriously, take joy in everything you do, because it’s a blessing just to wake up every morning.”

In his conclusion, Spencer added, “As a class, I know for a fact that we will do great things in the future. After all, we’re Chargers right? And we also had the best class in Central history, so I know we’re going to do well.”