LAURINBURG — In true Scottish fashion, the Scotland High School Class of 2017 was led into a nearly full Pate Stadium on Saturday by bagpipes.
The 50th commencement exercises saw the 322 newest Scotland High alumni take a victory lap around the track before filing into their seats in front of friends, family and teachers yelling and cheering from the stands.
The hour-long ceremony began with the presentation of colors by the JROTC Color Guard and The National Anthem performed by the high school chorus. Senior class president Destiny Ratliff provided the invocation before interim principal Cory Satterfield took the podium.
Satterfield began by wishing Jonathan Jordan Brigman, a member of the Class of 2017, a speedy recovery and prayers. The senior was unable to join his classmates because of a recently discovered brain tumor that required emergency surgery last week.
The Class of 2017 was one for the record books, according to Satterfield after receiving over $2.5 million in scholarships, 34 students finishing with a GPA of 4.0 or higher and one senior that never missed a day of school in 13 years — Arlenna Rochelle Douglas.
“The greatest number of all is the 322 members of the Class of 2017 that are preparing to enter college, the military or the workforce,” said Satterfield. “Whatever comes next, success will follow if you are positive, determined and have a good work ethic.”
To conclude his last act as interim principal Satterfield ended his speech with the help of the Class of 2017 with one final — “and as always — Go Scots!”
Salutatorian Daniel Elijah Rasheed Munnerlyn Johnson gave a poetic speech that began with thanks to his parents and three younger sisters for their love and support.
“Always set an example that you want others to look up to, remain in good faith and courage because often times the strongest are among the few,” said Johnson. “Wherever you go replace hate with love, because that’s all we really can do. We walk across this stage as leaders of the new age and on the book of history we begin a new page. I love each and everyone of you and wish you the best, God bless.”
Valedictorian Isabella Claire Whitehead reminded her fellow classmates that they did not reach graduation on their own and to thank all of those who helped them along the way. Whitehead encouraged the Class of 2017 to become the “problem solvers of society,” and to realize that time isn’t going to slow down.
“Soak up all you can out of life,” Whitehead said. “We will always have the memories from our days at Scotland High School, but as our high school chapter in life closes a new story begins.”
Senior class vice president Omega Elette Roberson and senior class secretary Camryn Alexandra Ellis along with Scotland High School Assistant Principal David Johnson and Angeline Cotton recognized the members of the senior class that were honor graduates and North Carolina scholars.
The soon-to-be-graduates then walked to the stage, row-by-row, as their names were announced by assistant principals Joy Smart and Venecia Morrison and their diplomas were presented to them by Satterfield and Scotland County Schools Superintendent Ron Hargrave.
As each seniors name was read friends and family yelled from the stands in celebration. Once all of the graduates names were read, Satterfield returned to the podium and instructed the Class of 2017 to move their tassels from right to left — signaling the completion of their high school careers.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 419-506-3170.