The Valdosta Daily Times
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield, is the motto of Valdosta High School and a phrase that will stick with its senior class for the rest of their lives.
On Friday night, 340 seniors from Valdosta High School graduated in Valdosta State University’s Physical Education Complex. As friends and family filled the stands, excitement and anticipation grew upon the entrance of the 2013 class.
The commencement ceremony began with the faculty processional accompanied by the melodic sounds of the VHS band. Once faculty members took their places on stage, graduates made their entrance, waving to their family members with happiness and joy.
As graduates took their seats, the presentation of colors was completed by the VHS NJROTC Color Guard, accompanied by the National Anthem, sung by VHS student and graduate, Alana Quensha Miller. The second Alana sung her last note, the audience and her fellow students gave her a standing ovation.
As the crowd settled down, VHS Principal Dr. Janice Richardson approached the podium, wishing the class of 2013 the very best in their future endeavors. She strived to laugh and joke with them for one last time and made it known how proud she was of each individual student graduating.
Martin E. Roesch, Valdosta City Schools superintendent, took the stage after Richardson finished her speech, encouraging the class of 2013 to go for their dreams and introduced another man who felt the same, Col. Edward L. Ford, commander, 23rd Mission Support Group, Moody Air Force Base.
Ford instilled a strong confidence in every graduate Friday night. He discussed how fortunate life is and how everyone can accomplish their goals with the utmost success. As smiles spread across the graduates’ faces from his message, he turned the floor over to Valdosta High School’s Valedictorian Mark Richard Stephen Garren.
“We, the Class of 2013, have made it. Tonight, we are ending one chapter of our lives as we leave Valdosta High School for our futures. Our graduation is the culmination of four years of commitment, hard work, and success. We’ve seen continuous improvement in each other, through our academics, athletics, and even in our dancing to the Harlem Shake,” Garren said. “This past year has seen many triumphs. One-hundred years of Wildcat football tradition, three years of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at VHS, and a continued legacy of service to our community. However, as we walk across stage tonight, let us remember those who have supported us along the way.”
As Garren continued his speech, he began to address his fellow students on one of the main reasons why they made it to graduation.
“From my personal experiences as a Wildcat, I cannot overstress the importance my teachers have had on my education since I first walked in to S.L. Mason 11 years ago. At VHS, we have been taught by some of the most intellectual and altruistic groups of teachers that exist,” Garren said. “Our own personal endeavors certainly cannot be miscounted, yet much of what we will become in our futures is owed to our parents, coaches, and teachers’ groundwork.”
After Garren concluded his speech, it was time for Amber Nicole Akers, Valdosta High School’s salutatorian, to deliver her speech.
“Thank you teachers and fellow peers for filling these years full of wonderful memories,” Akers said. “We have overcome countless obstacles. Just take a moment and reflect on the past four years. Congratulations to the class of 2013.”
As Akers’ speech came to a close, students made their way up to the stage and the deliverance of diplomas began. Once students started crossing the stage, Richardson made it her priority to congratulate each individual graduate with compassion. She hugged her students tightly and wished them the best of luck on their next journey in life.
Once the last diploma was dispersed, Emeritus Superintendent Dr. Bill Cason approached the podium to begin the transfer of tassels and the presentation of the class. As Cason gave the word, students of Valdosta High School switched their tassels from right to left and proceeded to throw their caps in the air in celebration.
“Valdosta High School, it has been a privilege to know you,” Cason said.