Passion, prayer and the Kanye West tweets highlighted the 2018 commencement at North Surry High School Saturday morning.
A 13-year journey concluded for 205 individuals when principal Paige Badgett presented them as the newest Greyhound graduates. Of the 205 former high schoolers, 76 percent will continue their education at post-secondary institutions, 23 percent at 4-year universities and 53 at 2-year universities. Badgett reported that students had been offered $4,744,808 in scholarships.
Of those not continuing their education, 14 percent will enter the workforce, four percent will join a branch of the United States Military, and six percent have other plans.
Student Body President Nicholas Conzone took the stage following a performance of “How Did You Live” by the Greyhound Sounds. Conzone is an Eagle Scout, an area director of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Raven Knobb, and a future student of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida.
“I’ve always believed in two things,” Conzone said. “The first thing, 80s music is and always will be the greatest generation of music, and the second thing [is] the American Dream.”
Conzone said he was lost in middle school, struggling to find friends as he searched for purpose. It wasn’t until the eighth grade that Conzone discovered his love for engineering.
“Now that I knew what I wanted to do with my life, I was going to do everything I could to follow my passion,” Conzone said.
He used the Wright brothers as an example of how passion can help one overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Conzone said Samuel Langley was given money by the U.S. military for the development of aviation.
While Langley had all the resources he could need, two young men from Ohio down at the Outer Banks would go down in history for creating the first successful airplane. Conzone said it was the passion of the Wright brothers that helped propel them to legendary status despite the odds being against them.
“Every day I try to remind myself how fortunate I am to live in this land of opportunity,” Conzone said. “That I should use the resources I have, no matter how small of an opportunity, to further my goals, be passionate about something.”
The final student speaker of the ceremony was Katherine Parsons, a member of the Lady Hounds’ tennis team, cheerleading squad, an active member of her church’s youth service group, and a future biology major at Wake Forest University.
Parsons spoke of the bittersweet time the graduates are experiencing and how much the students’ time together meant in the long run.
“Whether we realize it now or not, the time we spent together both inside and outside of the classroom has been a crucial source of friendship and encouragement in one of the most vital times in our lives,” Parsons said.
Parsons led the graduates in a prayer, thanking her fellow students and teachers for the great times as well as the hard time. She also hoped the graduates would take their knowledge and use it in order to reach their full potential.
Badgett concluded the ceremony by presenting the Class of 2018 to family and friends alike, instilling one final message to her former students.
“As you leave this school, you will take on a new determination to respect the ideals of loyalty, honesty, truth and justice that you have acquired here.”
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith