Emotions run high for Southern School of Engineering graduates

Jun. 10, 2014 @ 09:35 PM

Saying goodbye proved to be hard Tuesday at the Southern School of Engineering’s 2014 commencement exercise.
In a heartfelt farewell address punctuated by tears, Cristobal Alvarez recalled fond memories of his time at the school and urged fellow graduates to live life to the fullest.
“Live life as well as you can and never waste it,” said Alvarez, with Principal John Rollick standing by his side for support.
The graduation ceremony, held at McClendon-McDougald Gymnasium on the campus of N.C. Central University, was attended by several hundred people who cheered and called the names of the 45 graduates of the small specialty high school.
In an interview, Alvarez said he grew emotional when he began to think about his family and the fact that he will be the first to go to college.
“I practiced it and I didn’t crack up, but when I got to the podium, I just couldn’t do it,” said Alvarez, who will study computer engineering at N.C. A&T University in Greensboro in the fall.
Mykia Edwards, a senior class representative, also teared-up during her inspirational reading in what was an emotional day.
Amari Hamilton, the class’s salutatorian and basketball standout, said the four years at the school flew by quickly.
Hamilton said he is certain his classmates will be successful at whatever they decide to pursue.
“I have no doubt that the Class of 2014 will make something positive out of their achievement,” Hamilton said.
He also urged the Class of 2014 to be fearless as they leave the School of Engineering to enter the real world.
“Do not be afraid to take on the real world or any obstacle that comes at you,” Hamilton said.
Zaysha Tyson-Ford, the school’s valedictorian and also a basketball standout, compared her growth in basketball to her growth as a student. 
Tyson-Ford joked that she was terrified before her first game as a freshman and had a game that was unforgettable because she was 0-8 from the field.
“Our years at Southern School of Engineering hasn’t been all that different from that first game,” Tyson-Ford said. “We’ve all been afraid. We’ve all had bad days and we’ve all worked hard to overcome challenges.”
In the minutes before the graduation ceremony, Aajah McArthur, 17, grew nostalgic about her time at Southern School of Engineering.
“I’m very emotional,” said McArthur, who will attend UNC Greensboro in the fall to study physical therapy. “I didn’t think I was going to be, but then I started reliving memories. I’m really going to miss it.”
Josh Manns, 18, will attend UNC Pembroke in the fall where he will play football.
Manns said he is excited about moving on to college.
“I’m excited,” Mann said. “I’m ready to start a new chapter in my life. I’m going to miss some people, though.”