Jamestown high graduates told to 'change the world for the better'

As the first names were read and students walked across the stage at Kaplan Arena, a beach ball was tossed in the air.

Excitement filled the room; family and friends hooted and hollered as loved ones’ names echoed around the College of William and Mary’s arena. The class of 2017 took their last steps as Jamestown High School students just after 10 a.m. Saturday.

“All of us are capable of impacting and changing the world for the better,” senior speaker Alesandra Plourde told the graduates. “As far as what comes next, that’s what we make of it.”

The words of famed politicians and authors were shared throughout the morning speeches — former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, former President John F. Kennedy and A. A. Milne. Principal Cathy Worley choked up as she shared the Winnie the Pooh author’s “Braver than you believe” line.

The school’s co-valedictorians, Elizabeth Horley and Stephen Shamaiengar, were recognized on stage alongside the salutatorian and honor diploma recipients. Two seniors were selected to address their classmates.

Senior Corey Shideler followed Plourde. Letting test scores or a number of activities determine who you are isn’t right, he said.

“For so long, stats were what defined me,” Shideler said. “I am more than just stats on a piece of paper. … We each have the chance to create a new sense of self, to no longer be defined by the numbers.”

Worley said the 346 Jamestown graduates are spreading out; some will go to on two- and four-year colleges and universities, some are headed for the workforce and some, the military. The class was awarded a total $13 million in scholarships and grants.

Acknowledging that she was the last person in between the seniors and their freedom, Worley said she’d keep her remarks short.

“Why things happen is not always certain, but take it in stride and find the lesson,” Worley challenged the graduates.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

Jamestown High School

Total enrollment: 1,350

Class of 2017: 346

Student speakers: Seniors Allesandra Plourde and Corey Shideler

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