LCHS confers 230 diplomas at 45th commencement exercise

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019

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STANFORD — Two hundred and thirty students moved tassels dangling from their mortarboard from right to left when Lincoln County High School conferred diplomas upon them Friday evening.

The Class of 2019, clad in flowing red gowns trimmed in royal blue with the Patriot logo emblazoned on the front, entered a packed J.C. Eddleman Gymnasium to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” as family and friends looked on with pride from the bleachers.

The 230 graduates were led into the 45th annual LCHS commencement exercises by their class officers: Jonathan Carter Story, president; Tyler Cal Bastin, vice-president; Jeremiah Daniel McFarland, secretary; Thomas Gage Watkins, treasurer; and Savanna Emery Smith, reporter.

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Each graduate would take their momentary place of honor by crossing the stage to receive their diploma but, before doing so, they would listen to classmates addressing the Class of 2019.

In a break from the usual tradition, two seniors, not three, addressed the graduates. Typically, the class president, valedictorian and salutatorian take the podium as guest speakers, however, as this year’s class president and valedictorian are one and the same there was a need for only two speeches.

As the class president and valedictorian, Jonathan Carter Story was the first of the two speakers. Salutatorian Taylor Jo Wesley was also on the dais.

In Story’s sendoff, he told students to “make sure to remember this time.”

“Especially the great times. All of the laughs, clubs, sports, trips, pranks, friendships. But most importantly remember the hard moments as well,” he said. “The tears, pain, embarrassment, stress, anger, frustration, fights that we have all experienced going to this school. Keep your biggest mistakes prevalent in your mind. Learn from them. Remember that you got through these harsh moments and you are a better person because of it. Because you will mess up again.”

Story noted that times won’t always be easy but that it is important to never give up.

“… Life is gonna be rough. You will want to give up. That’s when you have to realize that sometimes you can’t do it alone. Don’t turn to drugs or alcohol. Turn to the good things in life,” he said. “Family, friends, pets, and guys there is a God that loves you and wants the best for each of you. Lean on these things. Things that are good and pure. Keep fighting, growing, healing, learning, loving, striving. Even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to.”

Before concluding his speech, Story changed his look, pulling out eclipse glasses from the 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse.

“I wish you all the best of luck moving forward,” Story said as he put on the glasses, “And I hope you all kept those eclipse glasses from junior year because I can assure you one thing. Our future is bright. Thank you and God Bless.”
Salutatorian Taylor Jo Wesley said that graduation is a special time for the Class of 2019.

“We will remember this night for the rest of our lives,” she said. “It is a time of reflection on what we have accomplished and a time of looking forward to what lies ahead of us. We leave here prepared, excited, and determined to pursue a life of success and happiness. When celebrating graduation, we think our tests have all been completed; however, we find there are many more important tests that still need to be passed.”

Wesley encouraged classmates to chase their dreams and take advantage of the opportunities in front of them.

“Whether your dream is to attend college, join the military, or start a family, don’t let anyone convince you that it cannot be done,” she said. “Those that go after their dreams will never have regrets. There may be failures along the way, but at least we won’t say, ‘What if.’ Those setbacks may very well be the best education we will receive. The unknown is there for us to grab onto. This is exciting and frightening at the same time. How we accept this opportunity is in our hands. There is no one else to blame for our missed opportunities and no one else can claim our successes.”

In closing, Wesley told her classmates that it was time to begin a new chapter in life.

“Our years at LCHS have been filled with many friends and fun memories, but it is now time for us to begin a new path in our lives,” she said. “Most of us will leave here tonight knowing what college we are attending or career path we are choosing. We will all be facing adulthood decisions that sometimes we will not want to make. However, Jeremiah 29:11 says it best: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’ declares the Lord. With thee words, I hope you find strength, encouragement, and most of all faith in yourselves for whatever dreams you are ready to pursue.”

At the conclusion of the speeches, LCHS teacher Kevin Bandura stepped to the podium to make the presentation of the Class of 2019. Assistant principals Kyle French and Stacy Story awarded the diplomas.

Before the awarding of diplomas, Bandura recognized two students that had several years of perfect attendance. Dalyn Montez Pope was recognized for seven years perfect attendance and Jasmine Jane Whited for four years perfect attendance. He also had the many members of the graduating class who had enlisted in the military stand to be recognized – which ended in a standing ovation.