LAURINBURG – Scotland High School’s Class of 2018 was greeted by a bevy of applause as family and friends tried to pick out their graduate in a sea of royal blue robes.
The 51st commencement program booklets were used as make-shift fans to stave off the increasing heat — to no avail. The sun shone down on Pate Stadium as the temperature quickly rose to nearly 90 degrees. As the soon-to-be graduates took their victory lap, each clutched a bottle of water in an effort to stay cool.
Students’ free hands were used to acknowledge loved ones that were vehemently trying to get the grads attention.
The 356 newest Scotland High alumni took their seats as the hour-long ceremony got underway. Speakers including principal Brian Edkins, kept this addresses short in an effort to keep the exercises moving.
The Class of 2018 was one an exciting one for Edkins, being his first since joining the district last year.
“This is a special group to me,” he said. “I’m extremely proud to share this day with you. Last year when I saw the job posting for Scotland High School, one of the most intriguing attributes was the sense of family. Once I got on campus and in the community, I grossly underestimated the sense of family here.”
To recognize and honor the generations of families that have attended Scotland High, each senior that had a parent who was also graduated from the school received a legacy lapel pin. Edkins then asked all of those seniors, along with their parents, stand to be recognized as part of the Scotland family.
The seniors received more than $3 million in scholarships, 43 students finished with a GPA of 4.0 or higher, 18 students received platinum certification on their ACT WorkKeys, and 15 members plan to enter the armed forces.
Edkins then gave the senior class one final assignment, assuring them it wasn’t correcting a timeline project or revising their term paper.
“Many of you know when I grew up my mother passed away before my senior year, she never had the chance to see me graduate and I never got to thank her for helping me reach the goal of graduation,” Edkins said. “Your last assignment, after you walk across the stage and out of Pate Stadium, I ask that you take just a moment to thank those who helped you accomplish this goal.”
Salutatorian Samuel James Poage told his classmates at some point in their lives they would face success and defeat.
“All of us are here because we have succeeded; however, it’s important to remember for all of us that we’re just getting started,” Poage said. “We have a lot more succeeding to do. Here is the thing with success, you don’t always succeed. Failure is unavoidable, but when you fail, as we all will at some point, just keep in mind that the road to success is paved entirely with fail. As you follow your road, strive to achieve the Class of 2018’s senior motto — success, nothing less.”
Valedictorian Jason Min-Koo Kang reminded his fellow classmates to live in the moment and celebrate the time they have with loved ones. He dedicated his speech to his late grandfather.
“I’m sorry to say that you couldn’t be here to watch me graduate even though you might not be here in body I know you are still here smiling as you always did, cheering me on. I miss you now more than even, not because I didn’t value you but I didn’t value our time together,” Kang said. “People always seem to be asking for more time, but turn around and waste it away. We procrastinate on assignments, wait until the deadline to work on things and wonder why we feel so stressed about due dates coming up and promise to do better next time. What if people really valued their time? How much more could we get done?”
Members of the senior class that met the qualifications for being honor graduates and North Carolina scholars were recognized before the presentation of diplomas.
The soon-to-be-graduates walked to the stage, row-by-row, as their names were announced. Family members were asked to hold their applause until all of the graduates were by Scotland High School Teacher of the Year Pat Vincent-Ruiz and English teacher Kendall Pickard. Diplomas were presented to them by Edkins and Scotland County Schools Superintendent Ron Hargrave.
As each senior’s name was read friends and family yelled from the stands in celebration. Once all of the graduates names were read, Edkins returned to the podium and allowed senior Chris Williams, who was added to the top six after all final grades were tallied instructed the Class of 2018 to move their tassels from right to left — signaling the completion of their high school careers.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 419-506-3170 or [email protected]