LEE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL: Soaked seniors told to 'strive for greatness'

Jun. 06, 2013 @ 09:20 PM

With rain falling in sheets, there was a slow and steady exodus as family and friends of Lee County High School graduates filed out of Paul Gay Stadium during Thursday night's graduation ceremonies.

By the time all 368 graduates — the biggest graduating class since the school was split in 2006 for the formation of Southern Lee High School — had their names called, a few hundred people remained in the stands, waiting during a flood watch to hear remarks from the various speakers.

Valedictorian Stephen Kirik told his classmates that it's important to be an individual but not totally independent — and that one of this class's strengths is its sense of community. The runner and swimmer, who also was on the quiz bowl team and is headed to N.C. State University in the fall to study engineering, also gave his fellow 2013 grads an assignment.

"I want to challenge you to put your talents to use," he said. "... I expect great things from this group."

Salutatorian Elizabeth Gay, a cheerleader and tennis player who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall, quoted a passage from the Bible about the importance of having strength of mind, and said her classmates displayed that characteristic. She also said the progression of $20 million worth of renovations at the school, which were beginning while this class entered its freshman year, was a good metaphor for the seniors' own growth.

"We came into a construction pit but saw it grow into a campus of vibrant color," she said, adding that students also showed their own personal colors in the classroom, on the playing fields and in the arts.

Michael Young, the school's student body president, said it's amazing how much the class had matured — although a few parties and dumb decisions were thrown in among all the maturing.

"As much as we want to tell our parents it was all work and no play ... we probably did some things our parents wouldn't approve of," he said.

Class president Britney Ferguson told her classmates to strive for greatness.

"The question isn't 'who's going to let us?'" she said. "It's 'who's going to stop us?'"

Guidance counselor Sherry Andrews gave the keynote address. The night's schedule was switched around, and speeches delayed, due to the rain.