It was a night of joy and celebration Friday evening for the Class of 2013 on the occasion of graduation at DeKalb County High School.
Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to MyKaela Duke and Hunter Collins while the Citizenship Award was presented to Matt Boss.
(CLICK PLAY BUTTON BELOW TO HEAR ENTIRE DCHS GRADUATION PROGRAM)
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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 honor students were also recognized during the program.
The 181 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands with Director of Schools Mark Willoughby as their names were called by Principal Patrick Cripps and Assistant Principal Kathy Bryant.
In his remarks, Valedictorian Taylor Leach talked about the unity of this class. "What if I told you that 1+1 equals 1. Many people say that one is the loneliest number but I'm here to tell you why this statement couldn't be any more inaccurate," said Leach.
"The senior class of 2013 at DeKalb County High School has many individuals with many unique characteristics. However, we have something that I believe no other class is fortunate enough to have. We have a sense of unity," said Leach.
"We all have memories from this place that will last a lifetime. We all have friends that may leave but will never be forgotten. No matter where we go from here, we will always have those to remember, and each memory adds to another to form one giant high school experience," he said
"I just want you to look around at the people sitting in front of, beside, and behind you. This will most likely be the last time you see each and every one of them together. So live it up because the people around you tonight have all combined to make you the one person you are right now. I'm glad that we were all able to work together to form the one and only class of 2013," said Leach.
Matt Boss, Class President, urged his classmates to face their challenges and strive for excellence. "No matter where we go or what we do, there are challenges ahead of us. We need to meet those challenges straight on with an open mind and heart. We must try to excel in everything we do; strive for excellence in every task," said Boss.
"Although it may not be easy to see, every accomplishment you achieve is added to the world's accomplishments. Your individual successes benefit society as a whole because when you succeed, you lighten the burden on your fellow man. When you succeed, you are in a position to give rather than take," he said.
"We may not have the power to inspire the entire world to strive for success, but we do have the power to try to achieve it for ourselves. My challenge to each of you is to do all that you can to reach your full potential. The future is truly in our hands, so let's make the most of it. Congratulations to the graduates of the class of 2013," concluded Boss.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, guest speaker, admonished the graduates to find their internal and eternal joy in life.
"All of you are searching for the same thing and that's happiness," said Hutto. What really makes us happy? Is it love? Is it money? Having your own way? Having a car or a job or all of the above? There are a number of things that can make you happy. But being happy is an emotion. True happiness comes from within. Not being controlled by your environment or your circumstances. Making the best of what you have and not letting people or situations control your joy. Finding that secret of joy is tough but it can be obtained. And once you have internal joy and eternal joy, you can face any challenge that comes your way," said Hutto,
"As you transfer from school to life the game is going to change a little bit. The difference between school and life is that in school you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life you're given a test that teaches you a lesson. Tonight I ask you to do three things for me on your way to ensuring your internal joy. Believe in yourself. Don't doubt what you can do. Don't let people intimidate you. And don't let what people think about you stop you from doing the right thing. Have no regrets. Don't limit yourself. Don't play it safe. Don't do just what is required. Don't do the minimum. Strive to be the best. Find your purpose in life. I believe there is a master plan for all of us and that plan may change as life moves forward. When you find what your purpose is, you'll know it. I've heard it said, if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. But what really matters and what will take you further than anything is your relationships. Today I challenge you when this graduation is over to find those people who made a difference in your life. Go to them, give them a hug, and tell them that you love them. That's internal joy," he said.
"Eternal joy can only be found in a relationship that will secure your ending. That's to let you know that in the end everything will be okay. That one day you'll be victorious. It's a relationship that will sustain you with peace and joy at the lowest times of your life and at the mountaintops as well. My wish for you is that you have that relationship. It is the most important one that you will ever make," said Hutto.
"Graduates, put your seatbelt on. Life is just beginning. Hold on and best of luck to you," concluded Hutto.
The program featured the processional and recessional by the DCHS Band; Invocation by FCA member Cassandra Lester, music by the DCHS Chorus and Theater; a special performance by the BETA Group; DCHS Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick introduced the honor students; and the Benediction was delivered by FCA member Taylor Leach.