Mount Airy High School’s second annual Capping Ceremony in the Howard M. Ffinch Gymnasium Friday morning encouraged seniors to think of graduation as a start and not an end to learning in their lives.
Assistant Principal Olyvia Byerly explained to the audience of classmates, friends and families that seniors may choose students or employees of the school to award them graduation caps in support of them finishing their high school career. City Commissioner Jon Cawley’s invocation encouraged the group to make the most of their remaining time at the school before they “walk across the stage when everything changes.”
Principal Dr. Sandy George introduced the featured speaker, Dr. McKenzie Sumner. She told the audience Sumner graduated from MAHS in 2005, earned All Conference honors in basketball at the school and was an honors graduate. George said Sumner graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a Doctor of Dentistry from the University of Maryland.
“Congratulations to you, the soon to be graduating class of Mount Airy High School 2014,” said Sumner. “It (seems like it) wasn’t that long ago I was sitting where you are sitting. This is a great high school and I encourage you to enjoy the time you have remaining, you have been building for this for 12 years. Graduation is not a finish line, it’s just a starting gun.”
Sumner encouraged seniors to learn how to learn, because high school prepares them to move on and be successful. He explained his goal had been to attend UNC, which is why he took many advanced placement classes in high school.
“In my mind (at the time) the whole future was just getting to UNC,” Sumner said. “It wasn’t until after I was there, sitting in my dorm room on the first night I thought, ‘now what?’”
He stressed students should think about life as a journey and not a destination. He said many often don’t look back to memories of graduation.
“There is a balance. If you loose sight of your goals you’ll flounder in college,” said Sumner. “If you lock yourself in a library you’ll lose out on four memorable years of your life.” Sumner explained dental school had been the most challenging chapter of his life and told them being out of his comfort zone taught him what he was capable of.
He said while training to be a dentist in Baltimore he had an opportunity to work with patients from all walks of life in a large city, which changed his perspective and made him appreciate Mount Airy more.
“I reached this milestone that had felt a million miles away,” Sumner said. “I learned education can’t stop when school stops. You have to become a life-long learner. Keep learning. Keep setting goals. You will surprise yourself when you meet those challenges.”
Members of the Mount Airy High School Concert Choir performed the National Anthem at the ceremony and closed out the event with the school Alma Mater. The choir was directed by Gena Ray. The song “Pomp and Circumstance” served as the processional and recessional music for the 108 seniors listed as participants. School Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little and Assistant Superintendent Bryan Taylor also attended the ceremony.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.