05/27/12 — Engineering school says bye to 'freaks' and 'pioneers'

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Engineering school says bye to 'freaks' and 'pioneers'

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 27, 2012 1:50 AM

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Wayne School of Engineering students start the processional of their graduation ceremony Friday at Goldsboro High School's auditorium. There were three speakers at the graduation. After the ceremony, the students went back to Wayne School of Engineering classrooms to receive their diplomas.

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Megan Bentham, right, looks at the flowers Arely Vazquez, left, gave her Friday after Bentham's graduation ceremony. Bentham and Vazquez have been best friends for three years. Many graduates received balloons and flowers from friends and family members after the graduation ceremony.

Taylor Carrere had nothing to lose as she approached the podium to deliver her graduation speech at Wayne School of Engineering Friday night.

So she opted for a more irreverent take on high school, starting with her first impression when she transferred in sophomore year.

"I was so nervous because I was afraid you'd all turn out to be freaks," she said, evoking laughter from the crowd. "And I was right. You are freaks!"

But they also became a family -- granted, a dysfunctional one at times, she said -- which ultimately left her a bit wistful as she delivered her parting words.

"Goodbye, halls that are too tight," she said. "Goodbye, bathrooms whose toilets will not flush. Goodbye, teachers whose jokes are not funny. Goodbye, ninja principal."

Two other seniors also addressed their classmates.

Reikeme Cannon recalled being challenged by teacher Benjamin Strickland to "find myself" and credited not only his friends and family but especially his grandfather, Warren Washington Sr., "Papa," with teaching him how to pattern his life.

Hunter Houtzer said attending the school had been the best decision she'd ever made.

"There is not a single student in my senior class that I would trade out and not a single one of us that is not ready for changing the future," she said, adding, "I cannot imagine a better way to have grown up or a better group of people to make me exactly who I have always wanted to be and who I have become.

"High school has been the best four years of my life thus far."

Calling her classmates "trailblazers, " she said she was "not afraid for us. In our hands, our future is safe, just as the school has prepared us for (it)."

Seventy-five students received diplomas during the ceremonies, held in the Goldsboro High School auditorium. This is the second class to attend all four years and graduate from the school, which opened in the fall of 2007.

"We have a lot to be proud of as we celebrate the successes of these wonderful students," said Gary Hales, principal, announcing that the graduating class had amassed over $2.3 million in scholarships.

Students had mixed feelings about departing.

Taylor Murphy, who will attend Pitt Community College in the fall, said, "I'm really happy to be graduating. I can't believe it. ... I haven't been able to process it."

"I'm nervous," added Ashley Bentham, attending East Carolina University. "I don't want to cry."

Kristin Hudelston intends to study meteorology at N.C. State University, while classmate Elijah Slater said he will start out at Wayne Community College.

Despite the heat, Elijah said, "We're feeling pretty successful."

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Kristin said. "I don't think it will until the end."

Strickland, who teaches English and Intro to Western Philosophy, has spent the first three years of his career at the school.

"This is an exceptional class. They're just wonderful people and really give us hope that the future is going to be bright with them," he said.

"I'm his favorite student," said Dorian Wences, seated nearby.

"Did I teach you?" Strickland said with a smile.

Jessica Rogers, who made closing remarks on the program, aspires to return one day -- as a teacher.

"I love it here," she said. "I plan on coming back. It's the most amazing high school."

Debbie Ogburn, principal of Meadow Lane Elementary School, could attest to that, as the parent of a graduate.

"He absolutely loved it," she said. "Best thing in the world that ever happened to Mayson Ogburn."