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GLEASON (May 17) — Thirty high school seniors at Gleason joined the ranks of the schools alumni following commencement exercises Friday, May 17 in the school’s gymnasium.First-year …
GLEASON (May 17) — Thirty high school seniors at Gleason joined the ranks of the schools alumni following commencement exercises Friday, May 17 in the school’s gymnasium.
First-year principal Lee Lawrence said the 2019 seniors were an “excellent class.” Quoting from a Steven Carter Chapman song, Lawrence said the graduates’ journey will embark on a new trail beginning tonight. He told them to never forget right is right, wrong is wrong and to be people of integrity. He noted they will face grief and sorrow along life’s journey.
Following Lawrence’s address, a slideshow accompanied by music, showed photos of each graduate with their seniors photographs and a photograph during their early childhood.
Chloe Martin, who was both valedictorian and class president, encouraged her classmates to seek and live their purpose.
“Thirteen years, one hundred and fifty-six months, six hundred and twenty-four weeks, four thousand three hundred and sixty-eight days, one hundred and four thousand eight hundred and thirty-two hours, six million two hundred and eighty-nine thousand nine hundred and twenty minutes, three hundred seventy-seven million three hundred ninety-five thousand and two hundred seconds… this is the amount of time that has passed since our first day of kindergarten... Graduation is a time to imagine your future and the world to come. When you think of the road ahead, you may gain perspective by looking back to where you’ve been. Throughout this time span, we have developed experiences, grown through adversities, and created many memories filled with joy, humor, and at times randomness. We have persevered and shown dedication, focus, and cooperation. We have taken risks and challenged ourselves. This is a summary of the past thirteen years of our school lives,” said Martin.
“Dedication and focus, we apply these traits to every aspect of our lives. In the past, we have devoted our time and efforts to and put our focus on expanding our knowledge, building relationships with fellow classmates and teachers, achieving goals, and bettering ourselves as individuals. We have repeatedly made attempts to remain focused through the 98 degree heat of a fiery inferno of a room, and we have dedicated ourselves to remaining afloat while struggling under the weight of endless and difficult homework loads. Keep a singular focus and total dedication. Follow your heart to provide yourself with the necessary tools to maintain your values and treasure the things you find most important.
“Cooperation, this is an important process to carry with us through our lives. In the past, we have learned how to work with others. Most of us, as individuals, have developed our own character and have learned how to get along with people whose personalities vary greatly from our own. This has allowed us to develop the concept of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit. This teamwork mentality allows us to both examine who we are and see first-hand how we affect the people around us. Seek your role and do it well.”
“...The most important element of life is that true success is not measured by material possessions, but instead is based on doing the will of God.
In a parallel message of Martin’s speech, Edward Castleman, Jr. said the class members will be dedicated to their own path and will cooperate with people around them.
Castleman said, “About time! Those are the two words that effectively describe this night... For 13 years we have strived and persevered for it all to culminate in this one, solitary moment. We survived, though we sometimes felt that we wouldn’t. We made it through the tests, the monstrous amounts of homework, the assignments that we had weeks to do and started on the last day, and the aforementioned furnace of a classroom...We will use the lessons of our pasts to chart our futures. We will continue to develop and show dedication, focus, and cooperation, and we will continue to take risks and challenge ourselves...
“Firstly, we will dedicate ourselves to our individual paths for the rest of our lives. Some of us will focus on our careers, some of us will focus on our families, and some of us will focus on years upon years of higher education. We will devote our lives to becoming the adults that we looked up to as kids. Those who we have admired is who we will strive to become. We will commit ourselves to the light at the end of the tunnel, to the point where we say “I am content with who I am and what I have done.” Our focus and dedication will lead us to what we desire to have and who we desire to be.
Secondly, we will cooperate with the people around us whether we want to or not. As we have worked together, we will have to work with our peers to accomplish our goals. Just as we have found common goals in our assignments and worked continuously with our teachers, we’ll continue to find common grounds with those around us. We will have to work with people that we like, that we don’t like, and that we’re indifferent to, just as we have for 13 years. We will see how we make others feel and how we work off of them, and we can and will use this to our advantage. Knowing what comes to a person’s mind when they hear your name is one of the greatest tools we will have when it comes to cooperating with those around us. It is as Maya Angelou said, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” For the rest of our lives, whether we like it or not, we will have to work with other people as we have all these years.
Thirdly, we will take risks and challenge ourselves as we have been, though to a much larger degree. Our lives will be full of risks that we will have to take. Decisions that may not work out well. Opportunities taken that may fail. We are each taking a risk at this very moment... Life is a collection of risks, but we will challenge ourselves to take those that are necessary. No one ever became successful by playing it safe...
“Well, the time has finally arrived. We have made it, and the lessons we have talked about tonight will stick with us for the rest of our days... I will provide you with one more piece of advice before we leave here tonight. Strive to be wise and continue to learn... I have never been prouder of the people in this room. You’ve made it to the end, so revel in this moment. Tonight, celebrate and enjoy your freedom, for tomorrow life will finally begin,” concluded Castleman.
Top ten graduates included: Chloe Martin, Edward Castleman, Jr., Dalana Veazey, Ally Spain, Cassie Griffin, Autum Wilson, Whitney Clark, Alyssa Hudson, Branden Arant, and Will Morris. On podium were: Director of Schools Randy Frazier, Assistant Principal Monica Rollins, Principal Lee Lawrence and School Board Member Beau Atkins.