HOWARD CITY — Before looking to their new futures as high school graduates, 144 seniors at Tri County High School — including nine foreign exchange students —had one last chance to look back, back to their earliest school days, to a time when wisdom was dispensed by the doctor. Dr. Seuss.
Superintendent Al Cumings expounded on the 49th graduating class’ motto:
“You have brains in your head / You have feet in your shoes.
“You can steer yourself any direction you choose / You’re on your own.
“And you know what you know.
“And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”
Cumings read other passages from the famous children’s author, most of which dovetailed nicely with the ceremony’s overall theme — hope for the future and an acceptance that success in life comes only from taking responsibility for one’s own actions and decisions.
Salutatorian Karlie Haywood began her address by thanking parents and staff for the part they have played in bringing the graduates through their school years, adding the teasing jibe, “We’re the bright, young minds who are going to one day rule everything despite what the old folks and our parents say. We are just getting started.”
Co-valedictorian Bailey Meredith’s tone was somewhat more somber, as she spoke of the “hearts that have been broken” at the school during the past year.
“We can’t deny it,” Meredith said. “That doesn’t mean we have to accept it. I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this school. We all have the potential to make a difference. But we’ve got to choose it.”
Personal responsibility also figured prominently in co-valedictorian Christine Scharphorn’s address to the students.
“I’d like to say we’re all going to be leaders of the world, but I don’t want to lie to you,” she said. “Some just aren’t ambitious, some just aren’t smart enough.”
Despite her humorous tone, Scharphorn’s overall message also was one of hope for the future and the part students will play in it.
The commencement address was delivered by teacher and coach Todd Simmons, who challenged the students to make the most of their lives.
Diplomas were handed out to the graduates by members of the Tri County Board of Education. As these young adults filed across the stage to receive their diplomas, it was easy to see how far — and how fast — they have come; all the way from Dr. Seuss to the road that will carry them to careers as doctors, lawyers and tradesmen themselves.