06/15/11 — Saints march: 219 Southern Wayne High School seniors receive diplomas

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Saints march: 219 Southern Wayne High School seniors receive diplomas

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on June 15, 2011 1:46 PM

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Students, from left, Dontae Artis, ShaKorria Artis and Danielle Ashford cheer as they are declared high school graduates during the Southern Wayne High School graduation service held at Kornegay Arena on the campus of Mount Olive College late Tuesday afternoon.

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Class valedictorian Jessica Best speaks to her fellow graduates at Southern Wayne's commencement.

"Freedom!" one woman shouted from the bleachers as the Southern Wayne High School graduates filed out of Kornegay Arena Tuesday night at Mount Olive College.

The graduates screamed, laughed and hugged as they walked around the college grounds, ready for one final moment together.

"This is the last day we see all our friends and teachers in one place," said Antonio Smith, senior class president. "It's been a wrap."

The 219 graduates were Wayne County's final graduating class of 2011, and some teachers said it was the best graduation they have seen at Southern Wayne.

"It's bittersweet," said Amanda Mozingo, who has taught the Class of 2011 since they were freshmen. "It's hard to see them and let them go."

Ms. Mozingo said one of the things she will miss most about the members of the Class of 2011 is their compassion, love and closeness to one another.

"They actually tried and did their best," said Becky Hill, a Career Technical Education teacher.

But the teachers' emotions were nothing compared to those of the newly minted graduates.

Laquetta Gregory said she was crying tears of joy.

"I'm happy, I'm starting a new chapter, starting new scenery," she said. But she added, "I'm nervous about leaving my family."

Ms. Gregory plans to join the U.S. Air Force, where she can "get away and see the world."

She isn't the only one who is nervous.

Michelle Evans said she is excited to see what's next for her son, Brian Davis.

"I did it," she said with a triumphant smile while Davis hugged the rest of his family.

Ms. Evans joked that she didn't want to give credit to her son. "No, I did it," she said.

Davis will attend Mount Olive College in the fall, where he has been awarded a baseball scholarship.

Although there was a lot of celebration in the arena, graduates also took time to look ahead to the future.

Valedictorian Jessica Best promised good times and hard times ahead for her classmates, but she reminded them that the course of their lives is up to them.

"How can someone who has everything in life be miserable, and yet someone who hardly has anything be amazingly happy?" she asked. "Happiness is a choice that we must make."

She challenged her fellow graduates to strive to not only be the best they can be, but also to change the world and help others as well.

Salutatorian Mindy Godwin also encouraged her classmates to find happiness and to live without fear.

"Fear is always the sole barrier between what is and what could be," she said. "I believe that you all ... have become the most fearless group of people that I will ever have the privilege of knowing."

And "fearless" is exactly how the graduates feel.

"Here comes college," said Tyler Reedy, who will study nursing at Wayne Community College in the fall.

"I'm an adult," he said."I have more to do. I have more responsibility."