Gators turn their tassels
By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 7, 2014 10:34 PM
Mary Terry and Lavontae Best take a photograph together after receiving their Spring Creek High School diplomas.
MOUNT OLIVE -- For the past four years, Zachary Brown has been told to tuck his shirttail in.
Saturday morning as the Spring Creek High School Class of 2014 salutatorian made his way to the podium he stopped, lifted his robe and, with great flourish, pulled his shirttail out to the delight of those on hand for the school's graduation ceremonies at Kornegay Arena on the campus of the University of Mount Olive.
With that goal accomplished he told his 115 classmates they have gained the most valuable commodity in the universe, knowledge.
"We've learned how to divide complex equations by hand, how to analyze the deepest components of 19th century poetry, how demographics in colonial America ultimately led to the Civil War, and how raw sodium reacts when placed in water," he said.
Brown said his classmates may be wondering how knowing all of those random facts will help them get a job.
It won't, he said. But it will help them get into college, where they can learn more random facts, he said.
"While knowledge may be the most valuable thing we take from high school, it is the life lessons that we've learned here that will prove the most useful," Brown said. "It is the memories and values that you take with you from high school that will determine your success in what you do next, whether it be college, or starting a career, or even starting a family."
Valedictorian Kathryn Harrell said that most people would like to tell the graduates that high school is, or rather was, the best years of their lives.
"Well, if that is actually true, then it is kind of depressing," she said. "Actually, the time to start enjoying life and to try to make something of ourselves starts right now. But the world is not going to be full of sunshine and roses. People are not going to go out of their way to help you like they have before."
Miss Harrell said she had the opportunity to listen to three previous valedictory speakers.
She said she hoped people would remember some of what she said, just as she had remembered past speeches.
She encouraged her fellow graduates to never forget what it means to dream and to have a goal. The only way to get through life is to have aspirations and the determination to achieve them, she said.
"We owe it to ourselves to never give up," she said. "So how will you define your life and what will you become? Henry David Thoreau said, 'What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.'
"Also, please remember to not let life's circumstances define you, instead define the circumstances by how you live your life."
In her closing remarks, Corrie Archer, class vice president, said it had been a privilege to share the ceremony with those present.
"Very shortly we will graduate and go our separate ways," she said. "But first let me take a selfie."
She paused in her remarks, turned her back to the audience and held her cell out in front of herself and took a photo as her classmates laughed and shouted.
"Thank you to our families, teachers and friends for all of your support over the past few years," she said. "Good-bye and good luck to the Class of 2014."
Class Secretary Vidalina Perez led the tassel ceremony.
"For the past four years each and every one of has been earning to reach this moment when we get to say that we are graduates of Spring Creek High School," she said.
The last few days have been "bittersweet," she said.
"Very ironic, huh?" she said. "When we were freshmen we wanted to graduate and now that we are here it is so sad saying good-bye to high school.
"Now I am honored to say, Class of 2014 you may turn your tassels."
Following the hour-long ceremony, the newly minted graduates, parents and friends lingered in the area outside the arena for photos, selfies, and hugs.
Class president Evan Hicks was showing off a lei made of bags of candies and nuts that a friend had given him.
Kameon Carter was carrying around a stuffed monkey that his sister had given to him.
"It is a blessing to graduate with everybody," he said. "It is amazing. I am from Virginia. My parents were in the military. We moved down here and settled down. I was only there (Spring Creek) for a year.
"It is amazing. It is a very friendly school. Everybody gets along. As you can see we are all having a good time just graduating."
Up next for the day, he said, were family gatherings and parties -- just enjoying the Class of 2014.
"I am going to continue to work at Route 21 until I go to ECU," he said.
Carter plans to major in biology and then got to medical school.
Carter said he had been nervous walking across the stage.
"I tried really hard not to cry," he said. "I didn't want to look bad in front of everybody, but you can't help but cry. It is an amazing feeling. We are all a family here.
"If you don't know somebody, you will get to know them. It was very emotion. I had a lot of family come from California and Virginia. They all came down."