06/13/13 — Southern Wayne High School tassels turned

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Southern Wayne High School tassels turned

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 13, 2013 1:46 PM


Hope Rose smiles while standing next to Marcellus Rountree Jr. during Southern Wayne High School's commencement ceremony at Mount Olive College. The school graduated 211 students. This year's valedictorian is Mollianne Kennedy.


Quantario Johnson celebrates after receiving his diploma during Wednesday's ceremony.

MOUNT OLIVE -- Despite one freshly minted graduate's oversized novelty tie proclaiming, "Graduate. I am out of here," Southern Wayne High School graduates didn't seem to be in any hurry Wednesday night to head off to their post-high school lives.

They lingered outside Kornegay Arena on the Mount Olive College campus, hugging family and friends, posing for photos and talking about their plans for the future.

The gym was packed well before the 7 p.m. start of the graduation ceremony, and it took just under an hour for the 211 seniors to turn the tassels on their mortarboards to end their high school careers.

Andrew Matthews of Mount Olive said he couldn't celebrate too late last night. He had to be at work at Walmart this morning.

It felt good to finally graduate, said Matthews, who hopes to play football and basketball at Elizabeth City State University while pursuing a degree in accounting.

"Probably tomorrow I am going to cry my eyes out, but right now I am loving every bit of it," he said.

Angelo Burden of Goldsboro said he needed to sit down and take a deep breath before talking.

"I feel I have accomplished a lot and have been successful, and now I am off to college and a bigger level," he said. "So I am ready to leave."

Burden plans to attend St. Augustine's University in Raleigh to major in nursing or a related medical field.

Burden said family and friends were headed to his house to celebrate graduation, but first they were going to Applebee's for a final meal together.

Valedictorian Mollianne Kennedy told her classmates that while preparing her comments she had realized that she lacked the life experiences necessary to provide wisdom for others.

"But then I realized what inspirations my classmates, along with many outstanding teachers, have been to me," she said. "I know that it's difficult for many of us to think about life after high school.

"We have the rest of our lives to accomplish great feats and to make a difference in the world. However, realize that none of us are going to become millionaires overnight, at least not legally, and we will have to work hard to achieve our goals."

Miss Kennedy told her classmates that they can expect to make mistakes and that things will not always go their way. But without those challenges, she said, they would never learn, gain better judgment, or become better people with the insight to improve the world.

"If there is one thing that Southern Wayne has done for us, it has refined the individuals we were meant to be. I wish everyone the best of luck in the future. Congratulations Class of 2013 -- we finally made it."

Salutatorian Cierra Moody encouraged her classmates to embrace change and all of the good that comes with it.

"I like to think of this time as a crossroads," she said. "Some of us will be going to college, some into the military, and some to work. Whatever road you take, know that it is not a dead end. It is hard to believe that when we used to say, 'When I grow up,' that we were referencing right now.

"By reaching this momentous achievement, we, each and every one of us, have the power to make a difference. Dolly Parton once said, 'Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.' This is the time that we will begin to find ourselves. Whatever you choose to be, embrace it. If you happen to come across a circumstance that allows you to take a chance and make a difference, just remember, it is a lot more admirable to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all."

Miss Moody said she had been unsure what a salutatorian speech was supposed to be. After researching Google and YouTube, Miss Moody said she was no closer to an answer and realized that she was on her own.

It was then, she said, that she began to reflect on the time spent at Southern Wayne.

"As we close this chapter and enter a new one, I hope that we can look back on these times and smile, but also continue to make our way in the world," she said. "As Gandhi said, 'Be the change you wish to see in the world.'

"Make every moment count and know that you are the director of your future. And wherever our paths may take us, we will always be Saints."