06/13/10 — Falcons class of 2010 soars away

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Falcons class of 2010 soars away

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on June 13, 2010 1:50 AM

The students and staff at Charles B. Aycock High School are a family, principal Earl Moore told the Class of 2010 -- a class that is "the perfect 10," he said.

And although the Falcon family was missing a member on its graduation day, David Burke, who was injured in a freak accident last month, was able to watch the ceremony via Webcast from his hospital room in Georgia as the other 290 graduates proceeded in to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance."

Burke injured his spinal cord and shattered a vertebra in his back while playing ultimate kickball with his church group May 18. The 18-year-old has already undergone surgery to repair the damage, and could not be present at the ceremony while taking physical and occupational therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

But when David's name was called, his brother Jonathan, clad in an Aycock-blue shirt, walked across the stage to a burst of applause to accept the diploma on David's behalf. And although he could not be there in person, David was still close to the hearts of his school family, including valedictorian Courtney Sheeks.

"After his accident a few weeks ago, his determination to beat the odds is emboldening and he has unknowingly proven himself to be a true inspiration to all. When you feel you have been abandoned and cannot carry on, remember that all is possible with faith and the will to persevere," Miss Sheeks said in her commencement address.

The valedictorian had to pause for a moment to choke back tears when talking about what graduation day meant. Miss Sheeks encouraged her fellow graduates to show determination in pursuing their hopes for the future.

"To quote C.S. Lewis, 'God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.' Every one of us has been prepared from the beginning to face and surmount the obstacles that lie ahead regardless of what you do or do not believe in. It is with faith and unfailing determination that we are propelled forward to face trial and tribulation and are enabled to succeed," she said.

Salutatorian Ashley Howell offered her thoughts about the people who made the most difference in the graduates' lives, her voice wavering with emotion.

"It is not these heroes who have offered a shoulder to cry on, who have lent an ear when the world walked out," she said. "Pop stars and Hollywood actors? They aren't heroes. Heroes are everyday people."

Miss Howell thanked all of the people who made it possible for the students to come to such an important place in their lives.

"All of us are surrounded by heroes, by individuals who have inspired us, and because of those heroes, we are gathered here today," she said.

But no matter how far the Charles B. Aycock Class of 2010 goes in life, the classmates will always have their shared four years of experience to look back on, Miss Howell said.

And "the perfect 10" -- including Burke -- will always be a family, even after the rush of glitter, silly string and beach balls marked the end of their time together, and even after the rules of high school no longer apply, Moore added.

"You don't have to worry about 'pull up those pants, you're out of dress code, give me that cell phone, whose class are you skipping while you're going to the parking lot, did you call home to get permission to leave, is this your lunch, are you parked in the right spot, are you in the dirt parking lot or are you in the paved parking,'" he said, to knowing laughter from the students. "Yes, those rules are gone, but this is what made this class the special class. But you're going on to bigger and better things where there are rules, but we know that you have learned well."