Sounds of celebration emanated from DeKalb County High School Friday night as members of the Class of 2009 received their diplomas during graduation ceremonies on the football field.
Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Victoria Bennett and Thomas West and while the Citizenship Award was presented to Luke Willoughy.
The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for outstanding achievement and leadership, academics, and other activities. The Citizenship Award is given to the senior who has demonstrated outstanding service, devotion and loyalty to DeKalb County High School. The honors students were also recognized during the program.
A total of 162 students received diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands with Director of Schools Mark Willoughby as their names were called by Principal Kathy Hendrix.
In remarks to the Class, Valedictorian Kesha Staley quoted Dr. Seuss in making the point to "steer yourself in the direction you choose". "
"In Dr. Seuss's book, ‘Oh, the Places You'll Go', he explains how to conquer fear and make it through all the events in your future. Dr. Seuss states, ‘you have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.' So your decisions after this point tonight are your own choices, no one else's."
" Dr. Seuss also explains how your life will be positive. "you won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed. You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best, wherever you go, you will top all the rest.' He also explains how everyone will have trials and tribulations, ‘ I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that bang ups and hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a lurch'. He explains how even though you will go through rough times, you will make it. Dr. Seuss states, ‘ somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying. You'll find the bright places.'
"Everyone here tonight has the chance starting right now to make wise decisions that will make your future bright. So as Dr. Seuss would say, ‘Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!"
Class President Whitney Moss urged the graduates to live their dreams. "With our senior year coming to an end, and the Class of '09 getting ready to go out and live out their dreams and achieve their goals, I would like to let you all know I have enjoyed the last four years with each and everyone of you, and I have made memories to last a life time. I have learned so much from you all and could not ask for a better group of students to be graduating with. I wish you all the best of luck and always remember Isaiah 58:11, The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your soul in drought and strengthen your bones. You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."
"Thank you all for everything! God bless you all and know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers. Congratulations Seniors!"
Dave Bennett, a 1986 graduate of DCHS and now assistant mayor of Blount County in Maryville, admonished the Class of 2009 to face the future with courage and pride. "Tonight is a great night. You are taking a giant step into your future. I charge you to be proud of that first. Be proud that you are a DeKalb County High School graduate. As each of you walk across this stage and receive your diploma, I ask you to remember that the world is at your fingertips. All you have to do is reach for it and you'll be amazed at the doors that will be opened."
"I challenge you to dream big and never fear the unknown. Find your mentor and listen to them. You can learn so much more by listening and keeping your mouth shut."
"As you leave here tonight, go and be leaders. You've got a foundation unlike anyone. As much as I love being in Blount County, this will always be home. And I've got a foundation that was built right here in the halls of DeKalb County High School that have given me so many opportunities and I've been so blessed but they started right here. Everyone of you have that same foundation. You have the ability to do whatever you want."
"I've had the opportunity to travel all over the world with my job. I've been in Tokyo, Korea, England, and France. I've had the opportunity to make presentations to Governors and even had the opportunity to meet the President of the United States but there's nothing greater and nothing I'm more proud of than being a graduate of DeKalb County High School. I will always be a Tiger and you will always be a Tiger. Never forget where you're from. No matter where you end up, you will always be a DeKalb County Tiger and that's something to be proud of. Everyone of you can make a difference in this world. Take tonight as your first step graduates, your first step to greatness, and everyone of you will be great. God bless everyone of you and good luck in your path."