Mount Airy High School’s 2018 graduation was about launching the current crop of graduates into the rest of their lives.
But it also served as a swan song for long-time principal Sandy George, who is transitioning out of the job into a role at the school district’s central office as executive director of auxiliary services.
Senior Anna Coram summed up her time with the Granite Bears, “This high school really is like a big family. I’ve been going to school with these guys for 12 years. It’s crazy.”
“It’s pretty sad,” said Tucker Corbin just before the ceremony began. “I’m going to miss it a lot. I’ll miss playing sports,” said the all-conference lineman for the football team.
Referring to Anna, Tucker said, “I’ve known her since first grade. In 40 years, we’ll have a reunion.”
Simon Cawley, salutatorian, class vice president and founding member of Surry County rap group “Tacos and Caviar,” addressed the issue of varying attitudes of his classmates toward graduation in his salutatorian address — an address he characterized as a time-slot filler so the kid who’s not smart enough to be number one doesn’t feel too bad about himself.
“Some of us can’t wait to get out of this place, and some of us never want to leave high school.”
Simon said he might be one of the ones not wanting to say goodbye, as he hadn’t begun writing his speech until one o’clock the night before.
Lindley Williams began her valedictorian address with a story about two young fish meeting a wise old fish who says to them, “Howdy boys. How’s the water?” Some time later, one of the young fish asks the other, “What’s water?”
Class president Elizabeth Marion urged her fellow graduates, “Be confident. Let your voices be heard.” She asked the older members of the audience to “listen to us,” and followed her request with a gentle warning, “In about three years, we’re going to outnumber you.”
“We must evolve. We must educate our communities,” she said to her classmates. “Let’s do it. It all starts with a voice. Be the voice, and the rest starts with you.”
“It’s a small class, but there’s a lot of potential here,” Dr. Kim Morrison, Mount Airy City Schools superintendent, said just before the ceremony began.
“The 110 graduates (including five who graduated early) have been offered $1.3 million in scholarships,” said Morrison. She added that 88 percent of them are going on to college, either two- or four-year colleges, and the remaining 12 percent are either going into the military or have jobs.
“This is our first graduating class to have gone through all the courses in Chinese that we offer, including AP classes. Some of them are planning to minor in Chinese.”
Morrison said that several students had performed 160 or more service or volunteer hours. Those students were recognized during the graduation ceremony.
The Class of 2018 presented principal Sandy George with a video compilation of school faculty, staff and students offering their thoughts on the departing educator.
When asked for a one-word description of George, several words kept popping up, among them “the boss” and “committed” and “motherly” and “Mama Bear.”
“Everything is not always going to be cupcakes and rainbows,” George warned the graduates before launching into her signature move, quoting a song for graduation, something she claimed not to know was a thing until she was asked what song she was going to quote at graduation this year.
She chose “Do Something” by Matthew West.
The lyrics of the song include:
I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire, and
I wanna be the one who stands up and says
“I’m gonna do something”
Simon was the graduate who offered a quote from “The Office” — a practice that has become obligatory at high school graduations — with this gem from the final episode, spoken by Ed Holmes’ character, Andy Bernard.
“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you actually left them.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.