North Stokes gradated 97 students, including eight N.C. academic scholars, 19 honor graduates, 17 honor society graduates, nine scholar athletes, and 15 Beta graduates on Friday evening.
“This group has been awarded well over a million dollars in academic scholarships,” said principal Nathan Rasey at the outset of the ceremony. “But the statistic I’m proudest of tonight is 90 percent of these young people have already been accepted into secondary education which is the highest percentage in our school’s history.”
Rasey reminded graduates of the words he shared four years earlier when the group of students came in as freshmen.
“I told them to cherish their days in high school because time will pass quickly. I encouraged them to maintain high standards and I told them to remember who they represented. They represent themselves, their families, their community, they represent their churches and they represent this school. Although none of these young people are perfect they have represented us very well.”
He challenged the graduates to never stop learning, make good decisions, and to live their lives with respect.
“Young people do not allow your culture to determine the values in which you live. Your culture will tell you that money and power and prestige and possessions determine success,” he said. “If you let culture dictate the most important things in life you will never find true happiness. You will never have enough money and have enough power. Your definition of success will be distorted. Do not let your culture provide the lens in which you view life.”
Valedictorian Jackson Moorefield encouraged his peers to begin a new chapter and truly become who they want to be.
“We can make ourselves into anything. The idea of such an opportunity is extremely empowering to me,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to relentlessly pursue what it is you truly desire in this world. Don’t be afraid of being successful because the universe is yours for the taking.”
Graham Flynt, a Stokes County native and beloved history teacher at North Stokes for the past 30 years shared empowering words to the class of 2016.
“Look around you. Look at all the dirt that has been moved, look at the brick laid, the concrete poured. Who paid for this? Your grandparents and great-grandparents. Children of poverty and war who saw their parents lose their farm and their buddies die. They grew up to be men and women who raised taxes so you could have this school. They knew their life wouldn’t be better by having this, but they knew your life would be better and that’s why they did it.”
He urged the graduates to remember their years at North Stokes High School. His last words before retiring this year were met with a standing ovation from faculty and students.
“Seniors, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. We are here because of the sweat, blood and sacrifice of thousands. For 30 years I’ve seen the future of students here leave and go to an unknown fate. You have the courage, wisdom, and love to make life better for the next generation. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will thank you for your sacrifices and they too, will remember what you did here.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.