PLAS grads encouraged to dream big

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

PLAS grad Will Taylor prepares his mortar board for the ceremony.

PLAS grad Will Taylor prepares his mortar board for the ceremony.

Who would have ever thought that a tomboy, who grew up on a farm outside of a small South Alabama town, could ever consider being at fashion designer and moving to the most populous city in the United States.

Christy Carlisle Smith dared to dream big. Today, she is living her dream as the senior designer of the evening division at Kay Unger New York.

Smith was the featured speaker at Pike Liberal Arts School 2013 graduation ceremony Thursday night. From the same podium where she delivered the PLAS valedictorian address in 1999, Smith challenged the PLAS Class of 2013 to look forward with a fresh start and pursue a career or lifestyle that they can be passionate about.

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“Passion is defined as a strong desire or devotion to some activity or concept,” Smith said. “As graduates, you have the gift of a clean slate. It doesn’t matter now who was the most popular or the smartest or the most athletic. You have the privilege to start over, if that’s what you choose.”

Smith encouraged the graduates to never underestimate what they are capable of accomplishing.

“Don’t place boundaries for yourself while you are trying to decide what you should do with your future,” she said. “You should never think that you are at a disadvantage because of where you are from, how you were brought up, the way you look or the mistakes you have made. Remember that it is inevitable that you will make mistakes and you will fail. Success is measured by how you handle setbacks. Take your negative experiences and use them for personal growth.”

In closing, Smith told the PLAS Class of 2013 that they have the potential and the tools to be successful no matter how they define success.

“Never underestimate what you are capable of accomplishing, continue to educate yourself and pursue everything in your life with passion,” she said.

Kelsey Clark, class salutatorian, said that saying goodbye is never easy, especially when there’s the closeness that the PLAS Class of 2013 shared. She expressed appreciation to the faculty and to the parents for their guidance and never-ending support.

“We couldn’t have done it without you,” she said. “It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. At Pike Liberal Arts, we have a community of our own.”

Clark said it was that community that nurtured the graduates of 2013 and gave them a strong foundation for success.

Class Valedictorian Kori Chirico told her classmates that she, like many of them, will sometimes wish to go back to their high school days.

“I have enjoyed every minute at Pike Liberal Arts,” she said. “It has been a long journey, 13 years, but I didn’t make that journey alone.”

Chirico also thanked the teachers and parents who have guided the Class of 2013 along the journey. She thanked them for their continuous support and encouragement.

“You have helped us in more ways than seemed possible,” she said.

Ceil Sikes, PLAS headmaster, awarded diplomas to the 42 members of the Class of 2013. She said they leave PLAS with a foundation for success and are prepared to meet the challenges ahead.

She encouraged graduates to take advantage of all opportunities that come their way and wished them all the best in years to come.