As line after line of seniors decked out in blue and white flooded the room, a special moment came and gone.
The president of the senior class La’kai La’velle Whatley opened the graduation ceremony with a reflection back on the last four years.
“In the ninth grade when we were freshmen, you traveled without me, but we were reunited as tenth graders,” said Whatley. “Ever since then our class has been bonded together as well-knit friends.”
Whatley wanted to thank those who have helped all the graduates get to this point.
“We gratefully thank our families, who have supported us through the tough times. We thank our teachers and coaches, who continually encouraged and brought hope to us, no matter what,” said Whatley. “And of course, we want to thank our friends, because without each other, the journey would not have been possible.”
Gordon Central Valedictorian Thomas Richardson said it best.
“After tonight we will go our separate ways,” said Richardson. “Tonight is the beginning of a new chapter of our lives. We can now ask ourselves questions like, ‘Where do I want to be? and how am I going to get there? Then we can take action to achieve our goals.’”
While standing up at the podium, for Richardson, it was about the past, present and future.
“It took twelve years of diligent work to reach this point, and it is a huge accomplishment,” said Richardson. “Tonight let us celebrate the past. Let us welcome the future with confidence knowing that we can succeed.”
Gordon Central Salutatorian Victoria Lee addressed her fellow classman with a message from the past. She mentioned that on November 4, 1942, the Allied powers won the Second Battle of El Alamein in World War II; this battle was the first victorious Allied effort against the Germans.
“After the battle, Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill reflected, ‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,’” said Lee. “Tonight, as we leave the four-year battle of high school, we are reminded of his immortal words. Like El Alamein, tonight is the end of an era. But more importantly, it is the beginning of the rest of our lives. Tonight, let us not think of graduation as an end, but a beginning.”
Together, Richardson and Lee reflected on memories throughout their tenure as a Warrior.
“Four years ago, graduating at all seemed distant and out of reach,” recalled Richardson.
Lee recalled, “I remember when we were clueless freshmen getting lost in hallways and passing upperclassmen in the lunch line.”
“Do you remember the CRCTs? They were the worst,” said Lee.
Richardson answered,” Not as bad as the Graduation Test. Although Mr. Lowrence diving off the table in the lunchroom definitely helped.”
“Does that remind you of any other epic lunchroom dives,” asked Lee.
Richardson said, “Yea, like the time Mr. Lee dove over eight lunch tables to break up a fight.”
“We’ve had some great teachers through the years. Do you remember Mr. Brock,” asked Richardson.
“Who could forget those bow ties,” said Lee.
Both Lee and Richardson made it a point to not only thank the teachers, but their fellow classman as well.
“Great teachers aren’t the only highlights of Gordon Central. We have students that are talented artistically and musically,” said Richardson.
Lee recalled, “We’ve had some great theatrical performances over the years. Do you remember Brittany Winston in “Damn Yankees?”
Richardson added, “What about you in “Little Shop of Horrors?”
From theatrical performances to the athletic scene, Warrior pride runs deep.
“I seem to remember some seniors qualifying for the State Championship in wrestling,” said Lee.
Richardson added, “We had a good run, but let’s not forget the football team taking us all the way to the state playoffs.”
Lee went on to say that the Blue Wave Band dominated in marching competitions, too.
“Just like our Lady Warrior softball team dominated a certain cross-town rival,” said Richardson.
Lee added, “Seniors on the tennis team owned on the court, while our soccer team pummeled opposition on the field.”
Richardson then began to reflect on his high school days.
“In our years at Gordon Central we have gained knowledge. We have gained understanding about the world around us. We have progressed and bettered ourselves, but we have barely scratched the surface of our potential and have only seen a glimpse of what the world has to offer,” he said. “The sun may be setting on our days in high school but the sun that represents truth and our life experiences is only beginning to shine over the horizon. All of us graduating tonight have received enough light to make our way in the world and make it better.”
Lee echoed his sentiment.
“There are some who believe that the year 2012 will bring about the end of the world. Whether persuaded by ancient Mayan calendars or the predictions of Nostradamus, they are convinced that the world will somehow be changed forever this year,” said Lee. “While we may not be on the brink of apocalypse or anything earth-shattering like that, these people are right in two ways. First, this is the end of some things. This is the end of pep rallies, morning announcements, and field trips to the High Museum. This is the end of cramming for AP tests and fiestas in Spanish. This is the end of bowling on Fridays and volleyball-related injuries. This is the end of fighting over seats in the mall. This is the end of our high school careers.”
Gordon Central Principal Scott McClanahan congratulated the Class of 2012, and deemed them eligible to graduate to the Gordon County Board of Education.
Gordon County Board of Education Superintendent Bill McCown reminded the graduates of how special this moment was.
“You are here because someone loves you,” said McCown. “Someone loves you, and your teachers at Gordon Central love you.”
Gordon Central’s student body president Heaven Lingle reflected on the moment.
“Class of 2012, we finally made it. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for,” said Lingle. “Thirteen years ago we graduated from kindergarten. Think about how much we’ve learned since then.”
She went on to talk about how Gordon Central has been a second home to her, and all the graduation seniors.
“It has been a place where everybody knows your name. It has been a place where you could always find a shoulder to cry on, or someone to cheer you on in your success,” Lingle said. “So many people don’t realize how great this school is, but we the senior Class of 2012 do know--and we will never forget.”