LAURINBURG — For Alaina Alford, it was a tough balancing act.
Speaking at Saturday’s graduation of Scotland Early College High School, the Class of 2018 valedictorian tried to look back and ahead.
“The year was full of many ups and downs,” Alford said. “The Friday nights at Pate stadium after a long week of lectures, jobs and homework, we all had fun for once.
“It honestly doesn’t feel like it is over. But like they said in ‘High School Musical,’ this could be the start of something big.”
Alford was among 43 SEarCH graduates to walk across the stage at Scotland High School to receive a diploma. Because of the rain forecasted for Saturday morning, graduation exercises were moved from outside at St. Andrews University to the high schools’ auditorium. SEarCH is located on the campus of St. Andrews University.
Earlier this month, 35 members of the SEarCH Class of 2018 also received their Associate’s Degree from Richmond Community College
“We have a lot more on our shoulders now,” Alford said. “As we approach the future, we must cherish these times. Life will never be this simple again.”
Alford said she when enrolled at the school four years ago, she was no fan of SEarCH, a partnership between Scotland County Schools and Richmond Community College that blends traditional high school with college courses to allow students the chance to earn both a high school diploma and associates degree in just five years.
“I didn’t want to be here,” said Alford, who plans to attend North Carolina State University in the fall to obtain a degree in chemical engineering. “We came to SEarCH wanting to leave prematurely … but we stayed and became better people.”
Martina Litty, class salutatorian, also spoke to the graduates, touching on many of the same themes as Alford.
“We finally made it to high school graduation,” Litty said to cheers from her fellow graduates. “Today is the big day and you guys deserve it … we deserve it. We worked really hard for this. Every hour spent with a tutor, every email sent from a professor … every McDonald cram session, you guys put the work in and this is the pay off.”
Quoting the poet Chen Chen, Litty said, “When I grow I want to be a list of further possibilities.”
“We’ve got some plans ahead of us, workforce, school, the armed forces,” she said. “Make a little list in your head of the steps you can take. When you get out of here, start running and don’t stop. Move forward and explore all of your endless possibilities.”
Litty, who plans to attend the University of North Carolina Wilmington, also thanked all those who supported the graduates along the way.
“Our leaving is really a way of saying good job and thank you to someone in this audience,” she said. “We’re moving on to our next big thing to our further possibilities.”
The 2018 SEarCH graduates are: Zycoria Adams, Alaina Alford, Shikhan Barrios, Pariya Clark, Michaela Farris, David Gause, Zachary Haywood, Lauren Inman, Allyson Lane, Martina Litty, Anothony Locklear, Samuel Locklear, Jennifer Lor, Elizabeth Love, Sekret McLaurin, Starleen McNair, Abigail Milligan, Emily Milkin, Albert Mitchell, Shaliegh Neese, Anthony Nelms, Ja’Dore Nichols, Aston Ramos, Elas Reyes, Mahalia Rhett, Keondra Satcher, Dylan Settharath, Alaiesha Short, Shelby Smith-Herrin, Alaina Wallace, Marcella Whitaker Katelyn Wright, Dwayne Anderson, Jordan Brooks, Austin Elliott, Autumn Fairley, Ashlee Gibson, Jessica Martin, Nayshawn McLean and Jade Quick.
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023