GRAD DAY: ‘As we go our separate ways’

Published 3:00 am Friday, May 27, 2016


Charles Henderson High School seniors celebrated while leaving their graduation Thursday. The Class of 2016 graduated with over $1 million in scholarships.

For the 142 members of the Charles Henderson High School Class of 2016, Thursday was the “grand finale” of their high school days.

Graduation Day was the beginning of another phase of their young lives and they tossed their mortarboards high with the realization that “life will be what we make it.”

CHHS Principal Brent Harrison said the Class of 2016 is a great class and wished them, “nothing but the best.

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“Your class has $1 million in scholarships,” Harrison said. “You are going places. You will achieve lofty dreams because your families have nurtured you and supported your dreams. That’s the reason you are here.”

The CHHS Class of 2016 was the first to graduate without senior advisor and “mother hen,” Betty Wagoner watching from the wings.

“Betty Wagoner was a special lady,” said Troy City Schools Superintendent Lee Hicks. “But know she is looking out for you and making sure her ‘babies’ get their diplomas.”

Hicks told the graduates that they have passed a milestone in their lives.

“This is your commencement,” he said. “Commencement means that one journey ends and another begins. Success in life is a combination of three things – hard work, a thirst for knowledge and integrity. I wish you all success.”

In presenting the valedictorian and salutatorian of the CHHS Class of 2016, Hicks said the race for the top scholastic spot was too close to call.

“We had to refigure to make sure we got it right,” he said. “The difference was a few hundredths of a point.”

In his introduction of Valedictorian  Anna  Shay Wasden and Salutatorian Bailey Teal, Hicks said the honored seniors have “poured their hearts and souls into their educations with dedication and passion.”

Teal said she and her classmates have eagerly awaited high school graduation. The wait has favored them with friendships that will last a lifetime. The wait has provided them with opportunities to learn about Shakespeare and Constitutional Amendments and everything in between. And, the wait had taught them about death and sorrow though the loss of classmates and  “Wag.”

“We thank our teachers and our families who have supported us as we chased our dreams,” Teal said, “Now, we put our memories back in our pockets. We know that, sometimes, we’ll have to go through the rain to get to the rainbow.”

Teal closed with words of direction from Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and of a good courage. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go.”

Wasden, an avid reader, said she wanted to base her valedictory speech on a book that would relate to the CHHS Class of 2016 and where their lives are on this day and in this time.

After considering works by Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson and other noted authors, she found the “perfect” book – a book for children –“The Minpins” by Roald Dahl.

Billy, the central character in the book, disobeys his mother, wanders into the Forest of Sin where he is chased by wild beasts. Billy is saved by a group of Minpins, tiny village people who live in the trees. Billy uses his intuition and his smarts to devise a plan to defeat the beasts. With the help of the Minpins, he saves the people in the forests.

“Now, as we embark on our journeys into the great big world, we are leaving the protection of our parents and diving into the forest of sin,” Wasden said. “We, just like Billy, must rely on the knowledge we have gained to this point, common sense and the help of God, friends and family to get through our own dilemmas – our fears. When we begin to face those fears, I hope each of us can find a way to defeat them, just like Billy.

“On the bright side, as we leave our comfort zones and go out into the real world, we can also discover all the beautiful and new things waiting on us.”

Wasden closed with the last lines of “The Minpins” –“Watch the birds as they fly above your head. Watch the robin, especially because it always flies low. And, above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”