Members of Warhill High School’s class of 2019 were met with roaring applause as they walked into commencement Saturday afternoon.
“Seniors, I’m confident that the past four years passed in an instant, whereas other times you felt the day, week or semester or AP time would never end,” said Principal Jeffrey Carroll.
But graduation finally arrived for these seniors. While leaving high school can be thrilling, student speaker, JanLou Lawson admitted it is equally terrifying.
“It's not unusual for many kids my age to wake up in fear of what’s coming next,” Lawson said. “And while this all seems incredibly exciting, we have kind of mixed feelings about the whole thing. No longer can we hide behind childhood.”
Lawson told fellow classmates not to let this fear control them — instead to ask for help when they need it and pursue what drives them.
“I encourage you to be passionate about where life takes you,” Lawson said. “Be passionate and you’ll achieve your own version of success.”
Student speaker Jailen Brown echoed Lawson in his speech, telling his fellow graduates not to give up on their dreams because of what other people think.
“At the 2017 graduation ceremony, I listened as the class officer gave a speech. She said ‘When I was young I had dreams of being an actor, astronaut or firefighter, but then I had to choose something more realistic,’ ” Brown said. “I sat in confusion because she listed my desired occupation as unachievable. I asked myself, ‘What would make her stop following her dreams?’ ”
Brown said he realized many people are dissuaded by those around them.
“In every country around the world there’s an aspiring adolescent whose counselor, parent or friend is telling them they should reconsider their career choice for something more reasonable,” Brown said.
Brown said classmates should follow their passions because working an unwanted job isn't success. However, he added that following your dreams means being realistic about it.
“If we wish to follow our dreams we will simply have to adapt to whatever lifestyle pursuing that occupation offers,” Brown said. “If the job I love pays little money, I guess I'll just live in my little house with my wife, and our small children and small dog.”
Carroll said that while he understood many students were looking ahead, he told students to remember what they had learned over the past four years.
“Remember how the voyage began at freshman orientation, that you learned the Warhill way,” Carroll said. “Know well the successes, failures and lessons learned and how these explorations shaped you into the individuals you are today.”
About the class
The class of 2019 had 298 graduates, earning more than $7,000,000 in scholarships and grants. The salutatorian was Mackenzie Flannigan and the valedictorian was Mikhail Pozdniakov.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.