06/11/06 — Eastern Wayne class exhorted to realize its potential

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Eastern Wayne class exhorted to realize its potential

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on June 11, 2006 2:01 AM

On a muggy North Carolina evening, 258 seniors at Eastern Wayne High School left their many yesterdays of childhood behind and stepped into the first tomorrow of adulthood.

Some will go on to college. Some will answer their country's call to join the military. And some will go straight into the work force.

During the ceremony held on the school's football field, valedictorian Lauren Williford likened high school to preparing to run a marathon. "Many of us entered high school expecting to begin the race that we call life," she said. "However, it was just practice.

"During high school, we merely build stamina, capture what motivates us, find confidence in our goals and ourselves, discover our strengths and weaknesses and realize the potential of our abilities."

She told fellow graduates that throughout their high school years they built foundations from which they will grow, foundations that will continually influence them the rest of their lives.

"This was our time to prepare for the lifetime ahead of us," she said.

In his remarks, salutatorian Desmond Rowe encouraged his classmates to maintain their individuality. "As we tread unfamiliar ground, our strength as Eastern Wayne graduates will be tested," he said.

"We must remain the free-thinking individuals that we have become and continue to make decisions for ourselves. For when we have reached the end of our journey, we will have gained success with the positive decisions we have made."

Rowe challenged his peers to remain focused on their goals, to take on leadership roles and to build on what high school had given them.

And that's what graduate Michael Sauls plans to do, first by obtaining a forestry degree and then going on to fire school.

He said the road to graduation was fun, but admitted the future is a little daunting.

The journey so far has been a hard one for Donnecka McKinney. "My teachers would push me because sometimes I would fall off," she said. "But I picked myself back up and got it together."

She said she had butterflies when it came time to receive her diploma. Now that she's graduated, Donnecka said she's ready to "look on into the world more and do more myself."

Students weren't the only ones with mixed emotions. Athena Doty's only child Lindsey was one of the graduates. "I had a whole lot of feelings -- mixed," she said. "Proud, very proud, and happy."

Milton Coston said he was "just speechless" when he heard daughter Nicole's name called. "I think there's nothing more to say than I felt proud," he said, adding, "And I think it was very appropriate that they said this was the start of their lives, not the finish."