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More than 700 students at Wilson County Schools’ traditional high schools graduated Saturday during a full day of commencement exercises at Fike, Hunt and Beddingfield.
Hunt had the most graduates with 304, followed by Fike with 267 and Beddingfield with 156.
Saturday’s whirlwind day began with Fike students beginning their ceremony at 10 a.m., followed by Hunt at 1 p.m. and Beddingfield at 4 p.m.
Lane Mills, superintendent of Wilson County Schools, congratulated the graduates at each school.
“Today is a celebration for you, your family and friends and for our school system,” he said. “Those first days of kindergarten for you as you started your educational journey probably seem like they belong to a different person. Your parents and families will tell you they can’t believe how much you have changed and grown, and yet they can still see that picture of you in their head from the first days of school.”
Mills told the graduates to forgive parents as they brushed back tears today and took pictures.
“It went by really fast,” Mills said. “What you will find now is that the changes and speed of life will be more pronounced after today. You have many choices to make and many directions to go from here today. That’s the fun part and the scary part, but make your choices and keep moving.
“Wherever you go from here, know that you are and will always be a member of the Wilson County Schools family,” Mills said. “We are proud of you and the person you will be. We love you and wish you all the luck and happiness the world has to offer.”
FIKE HIGH SCHOOL
Principal Randy St. Clair introduced the senior class president, Joshua Avery, who delivered the formal welcome to the attendees in the Fike auditorium.
“We are here to celebrate us” Joshua said as he listed some of the memorable experiences of the school year.
“As you look around at each member of our distinguished class, you will see examples of greatness and future successes. Whether you are headed to the workforce, college or the armed forces, I am confident you will represent this class extremely well.”
Joshua told the graduates as they set out on their next step in life, to look back on the years at Fike and reminisce.
“We may go our separate ways, but we will always have these past years between us,” Joshua said. “These past four years have molded us into productive members of society, while allowing us to have a great deal of fun along the way.”
Co-valedictorian Lillie Quinn used the school’s namesake, Dr. Ralph L. Fike, and a plaque honoring him as a learning tool, quoting a brief saying by Will Taylor under Fike’s biography.
“He made friends by being one, and on his friendship men relied, in every deed that need be done, he made the Golden Rule his guide,” Lillie quoted.
“It remains relevant and applicable to the Class of 2019 today as we begin the next chapter of our life,” Lillie said. “Most of us learn about the Golden Rule mentioned on the plaque when we are children; some of us have even heard it since kindergarten. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ our parents reminded us from a young age. Simply put, the Golden Rule calls upon us to treat others the way we would want to be treated.”
Lillie urged student to live their lives like Dr. Fike.
“I hope that you make friends by being one and that your friends can rely on you in times of struggle. Most importantly, in a world of conflict, hate and intolerance, I hope that you always remember the many lessons that you have learned during your time as a Golden Demon, and I hope that you allow the Golden Rule to guide your life.”
Co-valedictorian Chibuike Uwakwe began his address to the class by thanking parents, siblings, friends, teachers and anyone else he might have forgotten for their continued support.
Chibuike advised students to “live in the moment.”
Chibuike quoted Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss.
“Sometimes you never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”
“Let’s be honest, the way the environment has been looking lately, we definitely need to start living in the moment more. Between melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, instead of just having Lake Wilson around the corner, we could have Wilson, the Lake before we know it. Tar River could become Tar Lagoon. Neuse River could become Neuse Sea. But that’s beside the point. Class of 2019, what I am trying to say is cherish your life as you live it because we never know how much time we have left.
“This is our present. This is our now, and I urge you to cherish each second, minute, hour and day that you live. Thank you Fike High School for everything, Congratulations Class of 2019.
HUNT HIGH SCHOOL
In her opening welcome to those gathered in the Hunt gymnasium, senior class president Rebekah Ann Pierce thanked family members for attending.
“Having you here today to share in this accomplishment makes it even more rewarding,” Rebekah said.
Principal Eddie Doll thanked the Class of 2019 for contributing to the rich traditions of Hunt High School.
“Graduation is a time of transition, and please enjoy this time in your life. I am excited for each of you as you move into college or the career world and I look forward to hearing about all the great accomplishments from the Hunt High School Class of 2019.”
Rebekah returned to the platform a second time as the valedictorian of the class. She thanked her family for the love and support she had received.
“I can say with confidence that I would not be standing here if not for you,“ Rebekah said. “We have been through a lot this year, and there are some important people who are watching this ceremony from heaven, so I wanted to thank you as well. To the faculty and staff of Hunt High School, I thank you for the opportunities you have blessed me with that have molded me into the person I am today.”
Rebekah thanked God for being in her life and the lives of all the students as they graduate from high school.
“As we embark on the journey of life we are about to begin, I hope you hold close to the memories you have formed throughout high school. I encourage you to live your life to the fullest, and while you form new relationships, cherish your high school ones.
“As you go out into the world, remember the lessons that you learned in high school and how you can apply them to any obstacle you may encounter in the future,” Rebekah said. “I think it is extremely important to remember your past, while reaching for your future, and you should give everything your best shot. We are all capable of great things. You just have to believe in yourself.”
Salutatorian Emma Grace Fatzaun reminded students that their high school experiences have been filled with “ups and downs, highs and lows, wins and losses, successes and setbacks.”
“We have gained many friends and lost some along the way,” Emma said. “We have experienced happiness and suffered heartache. We have been through moments that we will never take from our memory and others we wish we could forget. We have had experiences where we wouldn’t change a thing and others we wish we could take back entirely.”
Emma said the students will always be Warriors.
“I believe that we are all Warriors at Hunt High School,” Emma said. “The future will continue to bring us challenges that we must face and as warriors we can. Just as we made our mark on Hunt High School, we will make our mark on the world.”
BEDDINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL
Principal F.T. Franks thanked the members of the Wilson County Board of Education who made their rounds to each graduation Saturday.
“We want to thank them for saving the best high school for last,” Franks said.
“We honor a graduating class today whose story has not yet been written, a class of great works and greater possibilities, who in four short years graced these halls and lifted this school academically and athletically and garnered accolades. They have blazed the trail for high schools in this county,” Franks said.
Franks told the graduates that the next chapter of Beddingfield’s story falls to them.
“You will write this chapter not with pen to paper or keyboard to screen, but in the walk of your life,” Franks said.
“Your adventures will be our school’s adventures. Your biography will be Beddingfield’s biography. Your story will be our story. Now go and write it.”
Salutatorian Kaitlin Nicole Abrams introduced the speaker, Dr. Quinton A. Lucas, a Wilson native and a 2000 graduate of Beddingfield. Lucas studied biological anthropology and chemistry at Duke University and graduated from medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lucas spoke on the importance of being grounded.
“For myself, when I think about being grounded, I think about being rooted and being connected to something that is bigger than you are, something that is outside of yourself.”
“If you are not rooted and you are not grounded in something,” Lucas said, “if your feet are firmly on the ground, you will be swept away.”
Valedictorian Ellison Wade Taylor told graduates to “take a breath and soak in the moment.”
“You have accomplished something incredible that will empower you to be world changers,” Ellison said.
Ellison told graduates that in order to move forward they have to be prepared to stick their neck out.
“We must remember who we are and what we believe in order to be successful. Don’t let anyone turn you into somebody you don’t want to be.”
Ellison urged the graduates to stand up for what is right and to leave their mark wherever they go.
“The end of the story is that there is never an end of the story,” Ellison said. “The end is just the beginning of something new.”