Graduating seniors said their farewells to DCHS as students during Friday night's commencement. And in honor of 23 month old Colten May who tragically died last Sunday, each graduate wore a small blue ribbon in support of child abuse awareness.
Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Bailey Hayes and MaKalee Ruch while the Citizenship Award was presented to Lydia Trail.
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, distinction, and top rank students were also recognized during the program.
The 181 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands and posing for pictures with Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins and DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps as their names were called by Assistant Principal Kathy Bryant.
In her remarks, Valedictorian Julia Little urged her classmates to take responsibility for their own happiness. "Life only gets harder from here. You will have really great days and you will have really bad days. But you are responsible for your own happiness. If you are unhappy in any situation, be it the college you're at, the job you're in, the town you live in, or even a relationship, change it. I promise you will be much happier. Nothing lasts forever. The really bad days will come to an end, so push through them and remember to lean on those you love for support. The really good days will not last forever either, so remember to be thankful for those who are there with you and remind them how much you love them every day. Wherever life takes you, god luck. Go at it. Oh, and while you're at it, have a little fun," said Little.
Kelsey Hedge, Class President, admonished her friends to explore the limitless possibilities of their future. "The future is up to you. Every decision that you make from this day forward will have a significant effect on your future. When you make a choice, think about the long term effects it will have on your future. Remember who you are, where you are from, and what you represent. Be willing to stand for what you believe in, and always be true to yourself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Follow your passion and make your own path. Dare to be all that you can be. Be fearless, but be thoughtful and mindful in your fearlessness. Take a chance on doing what you love, and always strive to be the best at whatever you do. Stay true to your heart. Have the courage to explore the realm of possibility, and always be willing to take chances. Believe anything is possible and work hard to make it happen. Most importantly, don't be scared of the unknown. Follow your passion, be driven to succeed, and always be open to learning as you go. Never forget that your life is made up of moments, Enjoy each day as it comes, and don't miss these moments by being lost in the past or anticipating the future. From this day forward, go find your happiness, and never forget, your life is completely up to you," said Hedge.
Principal Patrick Cripps challenged the class to "explore, dream, and discover". "In the famous words of Dr. Seuss, today is your day. You are off to great places. You're off and away. 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 to do. You are the guy who will decide where to go".
"You have been given a foundation by your parents, guardians, teachers, and friends to build upon. The choices you are making now will impact you and those closest to you for the rest of your lives. I ask that you not take these decisions lightly. At the same time, don't spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity that you miss the right opportunity. In choosing your path never fear to challenge yourself. Do not be afraid to fail because the only real failure in life is a failure to try. The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell. And when you fall, be humble. Cling to your true self and stand up stronger. If you don't go after what you want you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place. Mark Twain said twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover," said Cripps.
"Tonight my challenge to you is that you indeed explore, dream, and discover. Travel the road you were meant to claim but at the end of the day always remember where home is. I challenge you to keep these days and memories near to you so that you may someday have a desire to return and give back to your community. Remember collectively who you are. We are DeKalb County," Cripps concluded.
The program featured an Invocation by Bailey Hayes of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Music by the DCHS Band and Chorus. DCHS Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick introduced the honors and distinction students. Guidance Counselor Shelly Painter recognized the Top Rank students in the class. The Benediction was delivered by Lane Ball, member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.