06/11/11 — Warriors celebrate graduation day

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Warriors celebrate graduation day

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on June 11, 2011 11:43 PM

The mood was palpable for Zsa'vae Phillips and Shantay Johnson at Eastern Wayne's commencement ceremony Saturday morning.

The two friends stood between the bleachers on the home side of the Warrior Stadium, checking their programs occasionally before peering back out to the stage.

"Tynasia Janese Davis," Assistant Principal Sheri Hobbs called out over the public address system in a measured, metered tone.

The two exploded into cheers for their mutual friend, then laughed together at how their outburst had echoed across the field. They then composed themselves in preparation for Ms. Phillips' fiancé to walk across the stage.

"Javice Leshawn Morris," Ms. Hobbs said, as the two again shrieked in celebration.

Such was the case across Eastern Wayne's campus, as about 2,500 spectators turned out to watch the members of the Warrior class of 2011 receive their diplomas.

And while Salutatorian Morgan Jeffreys shared statistics with her 239 classmates, ranging from how many seconds the seniors had spent at the school to how many games the baseball team had won during their four years, she challenged them to stand out as more than just numbers as they moved forward in life.

Valedictorian Amber Miller echoed Ms. Jeffreys' sentiments, noting that the graduates should always be true to themselves, and warned against taking shortcuts, especially the one across campus that took students through the bus parking lot.

"We've all been tempted to take shortcuts over the past four years," she said in her address. "But it is our hard work and determination that kept us on the right track and it is our hard work and determination that is rewarded here today."

Following the tassel-turning, Connor Langston, an honors graduate, was reveling in her reward as nearly a dozen of her friends and family members turned out to celebrate alongside her as she posed for photos with her diploma. A whirlwind of celebrity enveloped her while she was taking an estimated 400 photos, each with a smile that suggested relief.

"It feels like a weight off my shoulders," Langston, 17, said, although she anticipates a bittersweetness when she begins classes at UNC-Wilmington next fall when she isn't joined by the friends she's had for four years at Eastern Wayne.

But being so near the coast may make the sadness easier to bear.

"I'm excited to be at the beach everyday," she said.

Her mother, Carla Massengill, watched as Ms. Langston danced across campus, posing for photos with friends during her last official day as a high schooler.

"You want them to do well and go on with their future," she said, noting the mixed emotions she felt during the ceremony.

Mrs. Massengill fell silent for a moment before adding that she'll be visiting Wilmington often, especially since she has a family friend in the area.