By Cody Thompson
LOVELADY – The Lovelady High School gym was filled with thunderous applause as the class of 2017 walked into the gym for the final time as students on Saturday, May 27.
The 45 seniors, wearing their maroon caps and gowns, were funneled through the center of the crowd and made their way to the rows of seats positioned beside a stage at the end of the gym floor.
After everyone was seated, LISD senior Ty Stubblefield opened the ceremony by welcoming the guests and performing the opening prayer.
“God, the biggest chapter in our (the seniors) lives has come to an end and, as we walk of the school for the last time as students, place your hand of protection over us,” Stubblefield said. “Our part in the history of Lovelady High School has finally come to an end, it’s certainly a bittersweet one, and I pray that we will take advantage of all that we have learned over the years as students.”
After the opening prayer, the LISD valedictorian, Kaylee Campbell stepped up to the podium to address her classmates for the final time.
“Here we seniors are, all 45 of us,standing on the tiny ledge of the present, balancing between remembering the past and anticipating the future,” Campbell said. “We pine for the simpler times, when we could color outside the lines in a coloring book and run amok on the playground for hours on end.”
Campbell continued her speech by comparing the struggles of early childhood to the impending struggles that she and her classmates would face in adulthood.
“Even though these memories tug on our upper lips, we can’t help but look upon our future with a minute sense of fear. No matter how excited we are to begin this new chapter in our lives, we don’t want to run amok on the playground of the real world. This playground has more bullies than any we faced in our childhood,” Campbell said. “But we never did let bullies stop us, nor shall we let real-world situations stop us from enjoying the opportunities life has to offer.”
Campbell then implored her classmates to stay strong in the face of the various adversities they will face throughout their lives.
“Once we walk out of these doors, we’re going to encounter that we couldn’t have imagined in our worst nightmares. We’re going to face difficult decisions and heart-breaking trials. We’re going to have to face those hideous demons, but we need to stand strong, and we will stand strong,” Campbell said. “Darkness will try to block out anything good in your life and that’s when you need to stop merely surviving, you have to start living.”
Campbell concluded her speech with one last piece of advice for her classmates.
“Life is scary, it’s vicious, but it’s also one of the greatest things that you will ever experience,” Campbell said. “Don’t look down at the shadows and the jagged rocks, but look towards the horizon of your future. Stand in awe of the opportunities and potential of the brilliance of your future. Spread your wings of freedom and soar over the canyon of reality toward the horizon of your future.”
The LISD salutatorian, Sydney Price, also gave an address to the graduating seniors.
“We’ve completed another major milestone in the journey of not only our education, but of our lives. We’ve been kind of sitting like baby birds in a nest and now we’re being thrown out of the nest to see if we can fly or not. I suspect that we will have no problem learning how to fly,” Price said.
Price went on the tell the story of how she moved to Lovelady in the fourth grade. Price stated that she was reluctant to go at first, but that moving to Lovelady was the best thing that could have happened to her.
“The friends that I’ve made in the past eight years are some of the best people I’ve ever known, and I’m so thankful. I guess what I’m trying to say is, sometimes change is good. They say it’s all about the journey, not the destination, but this time it’s about both. I wouldn’t have wanted to be with any other group on this journey,” Price said. “I hope you all find your own destinations and I will never forget the memories that you’ve all given me.”
After the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, Lovelady High School Principal Michael King introduced the guest speaker: Lovelady High School economics teacher, basketball coach and Lovelady Church of Christ pastor, Jeffery Rollo.
Rollo presented the graduating seniors with his three keys to lifelong success: keys, stones and flowers.
“To succeed in the next step of your life, you need to continue to grow, continue to cultivate your life. Continue to reach for and strive for whatever your goal is, whatever your dream is. Don’t give up on yourself, no matter the obstacles. We expect great things from you,” Rollo said. “You need to ask yourself, ‘What do I bring to the world?’ I’ll tell you what you bring: you bring excellence into the world.”
The graduating seniors were then called up to the stage and presented with their diplomas by King and LISD board of trustees president Bruce Monk.
Cody Thompson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.