Cavaliers graduate to new challenges

Jun. 07, 2013 @ 09:54 PM

Southern Lee High School Valedictorian William Maness pulled his commencement speech — literally — off the top of his head.

Snatching his address from his orange graduation cap, Maness told his fellow Class of 2013 graduates to remain vigilant as they enter "the real world" during the Southern Lee graduation ceremony Friday night. With rain falling throughout the ceremony, the students received their diplomas inside the school's gymnasium with some family members watching online in the cafeteria.

"We are about the enter the real world," Maness said. "Some of us are going into college. Some of us are going into the military and some are going straight into the workforce. But, regardless, it doesn't get any easier from this point."

There will no longer be parents and teachers setting alarms and reminding students to do their work, he said. No one holding the graduates' hand and there are cynics, Maness said, who believe they can't rise to the challenge.

"The way I see it, we have the potential to do either," he said. "We've been equipped by our teachers and parents with the tools necessary to be successful in this world. And I know each and every one of us are capable of using them and putting them to good use."

The coming weeks and years will also be a surprise and students will not be able to look ahead into the future, said class Salutatorian Cameron Wilson.

"Though we are coming to the end of our high school days, we are about to begin another stage of life," she said. "And this isn't like a book where you can skip ahead to see how it ends or even see how long the next chapter is."

Each day will bring new learning opportunities and tough moments, but their education has prepared them with strength and courage, she said.

The Class of 2013 will not have to face these challenges alone, according to Student Government Representative Charles Petty, but with their families.

Regardless of the number or even if you are bound by blood, your family will help you when you need them most, he said.

The Class of 2013 has bonded and become a close family, which has shared common experiences and moments throughout their time as Cavaliers.

"Life is the most exciting opportunity we have," he said. "But you only get one shot at it. So dig deep and find the courage to help you soar. And if you are feeling unsure and need help, your family will always be near and love you through it."

Before introducing the student speakers, Southern Lee Principal Bonnie Almond welcomed the guests and thanked them for their dedication to their students and school.

"It is a pleasure to see so many parents, relatives, friends and loved ones of the Class of 2013," Almond said. "Thanks for being here and sharing in this joyous occasion. And for what you have done over the years."