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GHS graduates begin a new chapter

Graduate Stephen Shaw celebrates after receiving his diploma at Saturday’s commencement program for Gilmer High School. (Photo by Whitney Crouch)
by Whitney Crouch

Explaining how the term valedictory means goodbye, valedictorian Emily Nieves stated she had decided to give a “hello speech” instead during the Gilmer High School graduation ceremony Saturday, May 23, because “hellos are always easier.”

Her first hello was to “a scary, wonderfully uncertain future” and she urged her fellow classmates to “make the best of it.”

She then turned her attention to the new people the graduates would meet in the next chapter of their lives but encouraged her peers to also “cherish and preserve” their high school friendships.

“Hello to disappointment,” Nieves continued, “because we will all be disappointed at one time or another, and that’s important. Achievement has no meaning without disappointment. If it’s easy, it’s not worth it. Don’t get discouraged when a hurdle is placed in your way. It’s there for a reason ... God’s plan for us is more beautiful and more perfect than anything we could plan for ourselves, so trust in him and trust yourself. You’ll make it. The road’s going to be bumpy, but it’ll never be boring.”

Gratitude expressed

Saturday’s commencement program honored the successes of 258 GHS graduates.

“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of this class,” stated Principal Eric McFee. “I wish you all the best of luck in the future. Thank you for a phenomenal year.”

Throughout the ceremony, several of the student leaders expressed their appreciation for the parents, teachers, administrators and role models who helped them to achieve their goal of reaching graduation.

“The tassel was worth the hassle,” quipped class secretary Maria Gonzalez as she presented an inspirational thought during the graduation proceedings.

As a symbol of leaving their mark on the high school, class treasurer Sarina May presented the class gift — a monetary donation that will be used to purchase trash cans for the student parking lot.  

Starting a new chapter

After asking the question, “What is today?”, salutatorian Bailey Charles observed, “Today is the day that I, along with my best friends and classmates, will turn the tassel to a new life, a new environment whether it be a job, college, the military or just a few years to think about things. We will turn away from a world of comfort and familiarity to face a new world of diversity and opportunity.”

Based on the class history presented by senior class vice-president Alex Hernandez, many of the graduates already have established plans for the next chapter of their lives.

It was reported that that of the 195 graduating seniors who responded to a survey 146 plan to continue their education at a college or university, 20 will attend a vocational or technical school, 19 are entering directly into the workforce and 15 plan to join the military — of these six are already enlisted in the armed forces.

As they look forward to the future and seek to achieve their goals, class president Mason Cantrell urged his fellow classmates to “always work hard,” “never forget where you’re from” and “never lose track of yourself.”

Borrowing a sentiment expressed by Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell about his team following a 1969 win, Cantrell concluded, “I wouldn’t trade you guys for anyone in the world.”

View photos, names

For a complete list of 2015 GHS graduates, see page 3C in this issue of the Times-Courier.

To view photos from the graduation ceremony, visit
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