It was a night of joy and celebration Friday evening for the Class of 2012 on the occasion of graduation at DeKalb County High School.
(SEE VIDEOS BELOW OF CHORUS AND GRADUATES RECEIVING DIPLOMAS)
Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Adam James and Ally Judkins while the Citizenship Award was presented to Elizabeth Sanders.
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.
The 168 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 his remarks, Valedictorian Adam James urged his fellow classmates to embrace the future with courage and confidence. "This mystery of what the future holds can be scary. And sure, we can choose to be afraid. We can choose to approach life cautiously- yes, we'll be safe, but never will we ever be able to truly embrace all that life has to offer. With this guarded lifestyle, we will work and grow old, but, honestly, not much else. Or, there is another path, another lifestyle, which we can choose instead of living in the shadows, we can choose to live a life filled with joy. We can choose to be amazing. We can choose to be absolutely incredible. Because, that is just what we are–incredible. Each and everyone of us has the capabilities necessary to leading a long, happy, and successful life. The fact that we are here tonight proves that. We only get one shot–one chance–to live this life right. So live it, and live it to the fullest," said James.
"You make your own happiness. Ask yourself, why do some people have more than others? Because they visualize it and go after it. What is it that you want out of life? Because whatever your answer may be, it can be yours. All you have to do is use your imagination and ask for it. Obstacles can't stop you. Problems can't stop you. Most of all, other people can't stop you. Only you can stop you. So don't be afraid to think big, for it is the person who thinks big that lives big. No one is better than you. You truly do deserve every happiness life has to offer," he said.
"There is a quote I like that says "Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs. But its your choice whether to close your eyes and scream or throw up your hands and enjoy the ride". Whether it be 5, 10, 15, or 100 years from now, I hope each and everyone of you graduates will look back on these years as students of DeKalb County with pride and think "Wow, what a ride," said James.
Victoria Tatrow, Class President, paid tribute to the teachers and parents and challenged her fellow classmates to strive for excellence " It is true, our experiences over these past years have allowed us to discover for ourselves who we are meant to be. Furthermore, I hope in my heart that each of you find happiness and joy in everything you do throughout this next adventure. At times, it may seem difficult, but so long as you believe in yourself, nothing will be impossible. Each of you are amazing individuals, so talented, intelligent, and inspirational. Please, always remember that by knowing who you are, striving for excellence, and believing in your dreams with all of your heart, you can accomplish anything," said Tatrow.
Motivational speaker Michael Burt, in his address to the class, urged the graduates to live each day with purpose and passion. "Your destiny truly has no city limits. If you read any of the six books that I have written, I very seldom talk about goals. Not because I don't believe in goals, but what I think wins out is a dominant focus in your life. A definitive aim. For all of the parents who are here tonight, the strongest way to get these young people to chase their dream is to let them see you chasing your dreams. So remember this, young people, here's a simple concept. We become the sum average of the five people we hang around the most. The second thing is this. We will be the exact same people five years from today with the exception of two things. The people that we meet and the books that we read. Every person in this stadium has a dream. You're either at one of two places tonight with that dream. You're either ready to go after it or you're ready to give up on it. My hope is that tonight's talk will help you get the inspiration you need to go after it. Don't ever let your confidence be predicated by people who tell you that you can't do something with your life, because if this Woodbury boy can write six books, win a championship, and speak to 125,000 people, then you can do it too," said Burt.
The graduation program included the processional by the DCHS band; Invocation by Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Vice President Laura Martinez; Music by the DCHS Chorus and Theater Class singing the Beatles "In My Life"; an Introduction by Senior Class President Victoria Tatrow; Recognition of Honor Students by Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick; Presentation of Valedictorian, Salutatorian, White Rose, and Citizenship Awards by Principal Kathy Hendrix; Guest Speaker Micheal Burt; Presentation of the Class by Principal Hendrix; Presentation of Diplomas by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby; Benediction by FCA President Elizabeth Sanders; and Recessional by the DCHS Band.