Finding home in each other

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Randolph-Henry High School’s (R-H) Class of 2018 was celebrated Saturday morning during a commencement ceremony at Central Middle School that highlighted the seniors’ perseverance, intelligence and unity.

“I am so proud of your accomplishments,” R-H Principal Robbie Mason said to a gymnasium filled with family, friends, faculty, staff and the school’s seniors. “This is a group of young people who have accomplished so much during their high school careers, whether it was in the classroom, on the athletic field, while performing service hours … or tutoring underclassmen, these students have immersed themselves and outperformed even their own expectations.”

Reflecting on some of the class’ achievements, he said, “We have students who are attending four-year colleges next year, many of them are attending two-year colleges, several students have earned industry certification and already have jobs in their field of study, and we also have seven seniors who have enlisted in the military.”

Mason made note of the fact that the seniors had faced tremendous difficulties during their high school tenure.

“This class has also experienced tragedy, which has been more than any young people should have to endure,” he said. “The passing of Carter White, a member of this graduating class, has been extremely hard for these students and Randolph-Henry High School. Carter was a young man who always was happy and full of life. He was a respectable young man who always tried to do what was right. He was full of compassion and was loved by everybody, youths and adults. As our seniors approach the stage this morning to receive their diplomas, they have been provided with a flower to place in the wreath located at the bottom of the stage. The wreath surrounds the the backdrop of a favorite picture of Carter provided by the White family.”

Mason then called the White family to the stage to accept Carter’s diploma.

In his final address to the graduating class, Mason offered some advice.

“Take time to listen,” he said. “You are extremely intelligent, but you don’t know everything. Experience is the greatest teacher, and if you will listen to what people who have had more life experiences than you have to say, it is quite possible that you can avoid making the same mistakes that they have made. … Listen to your boss at work. If he or she tells you to do something, don’t ask why, don’t conduct research, just do it. That way, you can remain employed.”

He told seniors to listen to their mothers.

“She will give you better advice than anyone, because she loves you more than anyone,” he said. “That way, when you move out, you will have somewhere to eat dinner when you’re away from home.”

Lastly, for the young men, he said, “when you get older, listen to your wife.”

Mason cited that since he became principal at Randolph-Henry four years prior, the Class of 2018 will always hold a special place in his heart.

Charlotte County School Board Chairman Larry Fannon and Charlotte County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Walker offered remarks and congratulations to the class, followed by Senior Class President Takira Jennings.

“My fellow graduates, I challenge you to embrace every opportunity that is put before you,” Jennings said. “Take what you have learned the last 12 years of school and create your future. To the class of 2018, I want to see you in 10 years at our reunion sharing all your life’s accomplishments with happiness, joy and peace but no regrets.”

SCA President Alex Moore challenged the class to remember these five things:

• Be bold and fearless.

• Be kind to others and to yourself.

• Never forget who you are.

• Never stop being determined.

• Do what you love.

Salutatorian Abigail Michaelson noted in her speech that the class had made her four years of high school quite memorable.

“As we move on, it is important to remember that life is short, so stand up for the things that you believe in,” she said. “Embrace who you’ve become thus far. Don’t be afraid to push yourself outside your comfort zone, and live your life generously, as Carter did. I know all of this sounds like things that we’ve all heard before, but they’re things that are able to keep each one of us accountable. We have a purpose which will eventually be revealed if we have patience.”

She closed by quoting Proverbs 19:20-21: “Listen to the advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it’s the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

She then introduced her best friend, Valedictorian Mitchell Davis.

He explained how the term “valedictorian” was Latin in origin, meaning “farewell speaker,” and said he could not be his class’ valedictorian.

“I know that we’ll always be together,” he said. “Our seeds were born in the same orchard. I prefer the term domumvictorian which emphasizes the most important aspect of graduation.”

He noted that rather saying farewell, “I offer a promise to something we’ll always find in each other — domum, home. Thank you everybody. You all have made my high school career amazing. I love every one of you.”

Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) Superintendent Dr. Nancy Leonard likened the Class of 2018 to the California redwood trees, whose root systems fuse as one.

“As I look at you Class of 2018, I have watched you,” she said. “You all’s greatness and magnificence comes from the collective. You sustain one another, you love one another.”