Whether delivered by their classmates, a businessman or a college professor, the commencement addresses the Class of 2017 heard at LCPS graduation ceremonies Saturday emphasized the opportunities waiting up the road – and the difficulties they will certainly encounter along the way.
Nearly 600 seniors received diplomas in back-to-back-to-back commencements at South Lenoir, Kinston and North Lenoir high schools that drew capacity crowds and were as full of dignity and solemn respect. School administrators celebrated students, students celebrated their teachers and their parents and students’ parents celebrated the occasion they’d been anticipating for 13 years.
North Lenoir principal Gil Respess pointed out that this class came in as freshmen the year he started as principal. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know all of you during our conversations in the halls, in the cafeterias, sometimes in my office during these four years,” he told the seniors.
Mary Beth Tyndall, one of two honor students to speak at the South Lenoir commencement, returned the compliment to the adults who helped at school and at home. “Thank you for believing in us even when we did not believe in ourselves and for equipping us with the tools necessary for life,” she said.
To her classmates, Tyndall spoke of the importance of each creating a map to future accomplishments. “Ultimately we are all capable of positively impacting others so we must decide how we will do so and consistently work towards that end,” she said. “Our lives will be filled with challenges but they do not have to defeat or define us. Instead, we can address them and use our lessons to further travel in our desired direction.”
Tyndall and Miranda Moore, another honor student, were chosen to represent South Lenoir’s graduating class as commencement speakers by a committee at the school that reviewed drafts of addresses submitted by students.
Moore’s address focused on the future – and how the past has prepared her classmates for it.
“When we walk out of this gym today, we walk away from familiar surroundings,” she said. “Today is not a day to stop, for we have worked so hard these past four years. We have worked for our education; it was not handed to us. We have dedicated 180 days of our lives for 13 years to stand here today and proudly accept our roles in society.”
Concluding, she said, “We close one chapter of our lives only to turn the page and start writing the next. As we embrace the future, remember to glance back through the pages. Remember the ride is worth the wait.”
Alumni from Kinston High and North Lenoir High returned to their alma maters to deliver encouragement and what one called “enlightenment” to the Class of 2017.
At Kinston High, Joel Wiggins, Class of ’89, an entrepreneur and business leader, encouraged graduating seniors to live up to the legacy of their hometown.
“Ever since 1762, Kinston has produced kings and queens who have left here and accomplished great things,” Wiggins said. “We have become great fathers and great husbands. We have stood up and become great wives and mothers. We have become businessmen, lawyers and doctors, professionals – those who serve.
“I believe this soil is the land that produces fighters – people who have to overcome many struggles,” he added. “It is the struggle, not success, that makes you stronger. It is the losses not the wins that produce kings and queens.”
Dr. Charles Herring Jr., a professor of pharmacy practice at Campbell University and a 1987 graduate of North Lenoir, pushed this year’s graduates to press ahead.
“Regardless of what your chosen path is, your education should not end here,” he said. “How would your life be different if goods and services were provided in the same way they were even 10 or 15 years ago? How well would your car run if your mechanic only used old technology? How good would your health care be if you’re only provided out-of-date diagnostics and treatments?
“Instead, imagine your life if you continue your education rather than ending it here. How will it differ? How will your ability to help and serve others differ – your family, your friends, your communities? Never stop learning. It’s one of the best ways to serve others.”
During commencements, each high school recognized students who earned academic honors. They were:
Summa Cum Laude – Christopher Campbell, Ricardo Crespo-Regalado, Olivia Hill and Malone Saint-Amand; Magna Cum Laude – Kaitlyn Grange, Mary Beth Tyndall, Hailey Elmore, Miranda Moore, Jenna Greer, Hayden Murphy and Raven Curry; Cum Laude — Keely Gates, Jason Finch, Ty Combs, Trent Davenport, Angela Rollyson, Jessica Pittman, Laura Jenkins, Jenna Beth Taylor and Janna Thigpen.
North Carolina Academic Scholars – Christopher Campbell, Ty Combs, Ricardo Crespo-Regalado, Raven Curry, Trent Davenport, Hailey Elmore, Sydney Eubanks, Jason Finch, Keely Gates, Kaitlyn Grange, Jenna Greer, Olivia Hill, Jacob Howard, Laura Jenkins, Jordan Kennedy, Kassidy King, Alexandria Martin, Miranda Moore, Hayden Murphy, Jessica Pittman, Ruben Ramirez-Ortiz, Angela Rollyson, Malone Saint-Amand, Corbitt Stroud, Jenna Beth Taylor, Jacob Turner, Lindsey Tyndall and Mary Beth Tyndall.
Summa Cum Laude – Brandon Standley and Caitlin Williams; Magna Cum Laude – Briana Summers, Abeer Zayyad, Maria Patino Guardiola, Kiara King, Tylik Hicks and Christopher Suggs; Cum Laude – Miari Blount and Cameron Thomas. Standley was presented the KHS Academic Scholar trophy indicative of the class’s highest GPA and Williams was awarded the Viking Scholar trophy as the student with the second-highest GPA.
North Carolina Academic Scholars – Ashley Marie Avery, Miari Lamour Blount, Merima Bricic, Kiara La’nae King, Amanda Marie Lionelli, Brandon Matthew Standley, Christopher Suggs, Briana Michelle Summers, Cameron Joseph Thomas, Caitlin Marie Williams and Abeer Bahjet Zayyad.
International Baccalaureate — Diploma Programme Candidates — Tylik Hicks, Amanda Lionelli, Mario Patino-Guardiola and Brandon Standley; IB Course Candidates — Ashley Avery, Miari Blount, Erykah Cooke, Kiara King, Kavalon Morgan, Briana Summers, Cameron Thomas and Caitlin Williams.
Summa Cum Laude – Jackson Lewis Sullivan, Angel Rodolfo Gaona, Laura Nicole Barwick and Christina Sports; Magna Cum Laude – Taylor Brooke Sanderson, Elaine Margaret Nix, Reed Logan Parris, Kailey Brooke Howard, Nathaniel Jackson Glen and Ashleyn Elizabeth Hines; Cum Laude – Cooper Austin Cromer, Cameron Miya Flores, Alliyah Danielle Greene, Megan Alyssa Young, Kelsie Brianne Stocks, Anna Chase Miller, Alison Maria Montague, Maggie Wrae-Steward Thompson and Kasidy Danielle Yates.
National Honor Society: Laura Nicole Barwick, Madison Elizabeth Cottle, Cooper Austin Cromer, Cameron Miya Flores, Angel Rodolfo Gaona, Nathaniel Jackson Glen, Garrison Smith Hall, Katie Victoria Harrison, Ashlyn Elizabeth Hines, Kailey Brooke Howard, Anna Chase Miller, Alison Marie Montague, Chrisa Dianna Renee Napier, Elaine Margaret Nix, Reed Logan Parris, Alexis Arlene Price, Jorge Francisco Rodriguez, Steven Allen Spear, Jackson Lewis Sullivan, Maggie Wrae-Stewart Thompson and Megan Alyssa Young.
FFA Honor Society: Kayla Deanne Groff, Cameron Alexis McAteer, Janna Elizabeth Moore, Kelsie Brianne Stocks, Bailey Elizabeth Tilghman and Megan Alyssa Young.
North Carolina Academic Scholars — Laura Nicole Barwick, Mckenzie Marie Byrnes, Cooper Austin Cromer, Cameron Miya Flores, Amairany Gallardo Juarez, Angel Rodolfo Gaona, Nathaniel Jackson Glen, Alliyah Danielle Greene, Dianthony Anigne Hall, Garrison Smith Hall, Jajuan Lee Hall, Katie Victoria Harrison, Ashlyn Elizabeth Hines, Kailey Brooke Howard, Benton Rommie Lovett, Anna Chase Miller, Alison Marie Montague, Chrisa Dianna Renee Napier, Elaine Margaret Nix, Reed Logan Parris, Diana Esther Ponce Ramirez, Alexis Arlene Marie Price, Jorge Fransisco Rodriguez Lopez, Taylor Brooke Sanderson, Steven Allen Spear, Madison Elizabeth Spears, Christina Paige Sports, Kelsie Brianne Stocks, Jackson Lewis Sullivan, Lowell Jared Taylor, Maggie Wrae-Stewart Thompson, Savannah Marie Turlington, Kasidy Danielle Yates and Megan Alyssa Young.