06/14/09 — Goldsboro High holds graduation for 135

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Goldsboro High holds graduation for 135

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on June 14, 2009 2:00 AM

Kabili Tayari, the deputy mayor of Jersey City, N.J., made a return to his hometown of Goldsboro on Friday night to see his niece graduate.

While he knows that Royal Deneen Hazel faces a tough economy, he said he is confident that she will be successful.

Goldsboro High School held its commencement on Friday, with 135 students receiving diplomas.

Tayari said he could barely contain his pride.

"It's an accomplishment in our family," he said. "Education has always been important to us as African Americans in particular, so her graduation signifies that continuation of excellence."

The class valedictorian, Jordan McIntyre, credited the school with molding students into the "unique and prolific class we are today."

"We were challenged to not only be academically gifted, but also to be rare, flavorful and proud of our distinguishing attributes," he said in his remarks.

Salutatorian Dominique Sauls gave the invocation and a welcome during the ceremony.

Some graduates overcame challenges that could easily have prevented them from graduating. Like LaQuita Holmes, 18.

Her sister, Shanique Holmes, 16, said LaQuita gave birth to her son, Antwan Smith, about 11 months ago. But having a child at a young age did not deter her, Shanique said.

"She's got a son she's taking care of. Even though she had a son, she still made it," she said.

Principal Patricia Burden said that the graduating students held up to their class motto, "Continuing the legacy of excellence."

"Our biggest fear is not that we are inadequate -- our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure," she said. "It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. As we are liberated from our fear of our own excellence, our presence automatically liberates others, and excellence becomes the standard of all of our lives."

LaQuana Sanders, 17, and Aundrea Clark, 18, held each other in a tearful embrace after exiting the Goldsboro High School gym following the recessional.

The pair said they knew they would be seeing less of their friends, and it made the joy of graduating bittersweet.

"This is a milestone in our life, and we'll never get a chance to experience this again," Miss Sanders said. "We're grown, we're done, and we're going out to face the real world."

Many of the 2009 graduating class took their studies very seriously, said Billie Smith, a social studies teacher at Goldsboro High.

Ms. Smith said students not only met with her after school, but often joined her on Saturdays at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church to study.

"Several of the kids are some of the best and brightest students that I've ever taught," she said.

Shaquana Leach, 18, was among the students who took advantage of the extra tutoring sessions, crediting Ms. Smith with helping her realize the importance of historical concepts and events.

"It was her caring," Miss Leach said. "I knew that she really wanted us to be good, and it really touched me that she took out the time to make sure that we were the best we could be."