Bethel students told to continue to achieve

Contact Reporterejhammond@dailypress.com

Salutatorian Gabriella Coronado gave her fellow members of the Bethel High School Class of 2017 a bit of bad news during graduation Thursday night.

After receiving their diplomas, Coronado said, the time of being told what to do and how to do it is over. Now, the 405 graduates must make it on their own.

But Coronado said that it was an opportunity for her peers to show the world what they are capable of, as they did by persevering through tough times in the past.

"They were told because of their race, their sexuality, their gender, their looks, their upbringing — they were told that they were nothing," she said. "That we were nothing. And yet here we are. We stand before you as the Class of 2017, graduating. I believe that is something. I believe that is greatness. We have achieved."

In her remarks, Valedictorian Ashley Orgain reminded her classmates of Principal Ralph Saunders' signature morning announcement slogan, giving the class a chance to chant in unison: "'Make it a great day at Bethel High School, the home of academic excellence.'

"Although I may not hear that phrase every morning anymore," Orgain continued, "I will carry those words with me wherever I go, reminding myself to bring greatness, and excellence, as well as passion, to all my endeavors."

In total, the Class of 2017 earned more than $12.5 million in scholarships and academic awards.

Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951.

Bethel High School

Total enrollment: 1,692

Class of 2017: 405

Student speakers: Valedictorian Ashley Orgain; Salutatorian Gabriella Coronado; Senior Class President Joey Santos.

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