06/10/07 — Charles B. Aycock High School graduation

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Charles B. Aycock High School graduation

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 10, 2007 2:01 AM


News-Argus Staff Writer

Brittani Schultze was excited.

The blue- and gold-clad 18-year-old had been waiting all week for this moment.

So before she and 295 other Charles B.Aycock seniors made their final appearance on the football field as students, she took it all in.

"It's been crazy," Brittani said. "I'm just excited we got this far."

Jessica Jones was ready, too.

Like many Aycock graduates, she will be continuing her studies in the fall - right down the road at Mount Olive College.

But Friday evening wasn't really about the future at all.

It was a time for friends and family to come together to celebrate a milestone - never mind the near 100-degree heat.

And for the seniors, it was about memories made and those to come.

Jessica said her peers are what she will miss the most about Aycock.

"My friends, definitely," the 18-year-old said.

Mazen Sabra agreed.

The things he will take away from four years at the Pikeville high school - "the memories" and "the good times we've had here."

And he hopes that the next step means new memories on the horizon, in Raleigh at North Carolina State University.

Brittani will be attending college, also. But unlike many of her classmates, she won't be right down the road.

She will be in Florida attending Southeastern University and credited her teachers and mentors with preparing her for the future.

"(I will miss) all the awesome teachers that have made this experience," she said.

But there were others involved in the success of the Class of 2007.

Parents, extended family members and friends shared stories, smiles and tears while they watched their loved ones walk across that stage.

Miranda Jenkins drove across two states to watch her granddaughter relocate the tassel on her square cap.

"You watch your own children grow up and you're sad a little," she said. "But then you see their children grow and you know you raised your own right. This is just a proud night for her and all of us."

Nathan Reynolds said he still can't believe how much his nephew has grown.

"I shook his hand and told him how proud I was," he said. "He's a good boy and I really have always loved him like a son."

There were other stories to be told.

But they would have to wait until the post-ceremony car-rides, picnics and parties.

After all, this was still a graduation - complete with speeches and plenty of name-reading.

Aycock Valedictorian Nida Waheed challenged her peers to reject the status quo.

"My advice is simple: accept change," she said. "Change your hair, try new and different foods, meet new people, learn new words, and most of all remember to keep an open mind because by holding on to the familiar, we tend to miss out on a lot."

Salutatorian Gudrun Gylfadottir took a different approach.

"Don't take advice from me," she said. "Make your life yours, whether that life includes a college education or a white collar job or not. Don't let people tell you what you want. Just go for it."