06/11/11 — Gator grads ready to make a difference

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Gator grads ready to make a difference

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 11, 2011 11:43 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- James Beavers of Seven Springs and Ryan Viverette of Snow Hill have known each other since starting kindergarten together 13 years ago at Spring Creek Elementary.

Saturday morning Beavers, valedictorian, and Viverette, co-salutatorian, clutched and glanced at copies of their speeches as they waited together for Spring Creek High School's graduation to begin at Kornegay Arena on the campus of Mount Olive College.

There were 112 candidates for graduation.

"We have been competing since kindergarten pretty much," Viverette said. "I think I had a 3.66 and he had a 3.81, but it there was actually a point earlier in our high school career that him, me and another student were tied for first place for two years straight. It has always been a real close race until right here at the end."

Both said they had to finish signing up for college courses following the graduation. Beavers plans to attend North Carolina State University to major in computer science with a possible double major in computer engineering.

Viverette plans to attend UNC at Chapel Hill to major in biomedical science and pre-med.

He said he was getting some "butterflies," but was ready to go.

"I have practiced (my speech) a few times," he said. "I practiced in front of my family and parents a couple of times last night trying to get the feel for it and hopefully I can get up there and get it going. It is kind of surreal to the point that this senior year kind of flew by."

For the first time in the school's history there were co-salutatorians, Viverette and Kent Jernigan, who plans to major in business at N.C. State.

"As high school seniors, we are the next generation of Americans and world leaders," Jernigan said in his address. "The question is, 'What are you going to do?' You change America and bring forth a renewal of Am-erica and American spirit.

"Everyone in this room could change the world with their actions and thoughts. The greatest tragedy is when good people fail to take action, but this happens every day."

Viverette said that once the graduates walked out with diplomas in hand they would always be connected.

"We are the only ones who will be part of this special group," he said. "After today, we are no longer high school students ... life truly starts to change for all us."

Beavers advised his classmates that no matter what they do, they should do it with passion.

Life will become tougher, he said.

"There will be times when you just want to give up, but just remember your high school experience and that as Joshua J. Marine once said, 'Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.'

"I am thankful for being given the opportunity to grow up with you, my classmates. It has been my parents, my teachers and most importantly my friends and fellow band geeks that have shaped me into the person that I am today. I thank you for this and to me, you are all valedictorians."