End of the road for Southern High School
When the graduation speakers for Southern High School spoke of coming to the end of a journey Wednesday, they weren’t just talking about themselves.
The Class of 2014 is the last to graduate from the school, which will officially become the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability, a high school magnet program that integrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics in relation to energy and sustainability.
Southern’s commencement exercise for nearly 200 students at Cameron Indoor Stadium on the Duke University Campus was the first among a trio scheduled for Wednesday.
Diamond Nowell, the student body president and valedictorian, said the end of the long journey through high school has brought members to the brink of a new and exciting adventure.
“It was difficult, but we made it,” Nowell said.
She noted that there are members of the Class of 2014 who have broken “every stereotype and defied every statistic” that indicated that they would not graduate.
Those words resonated with Derria Williams, 17, who is heading off to Livingstone College in the fall to study Psychology.
“I feel great,” Williams beamed. “I finally did it and proved everybody wrong.’
When asked what she meant by that, Williams explained that she has a checkered past and no one would have bet on her completing high school.
“No one ever believed in me and looked at me now,” said Williams, who then did a little dance.
Noah Chase, 18, said he will play football at Virginia Union or Winston-Salem State in the fall.
“It’s great,” Chase said of earning his high school diploma. “I feel accomplished. I’m glad I made it.”
Nowell told her classmates that success is not defined by wealth or fame.
“Whatever you do, do it because you want to do it,” Nowell said.
Switching to her student body president’s hat, Nowell said too many from her generation are too afraid to succeed and too afraid to love.
“Stop worrying, stop being afraid and succeed anyway and love any way,” Nowell said.
Cynia Black, president of the senior class, said the Class of 2014 was symbolically coming to an end and a beginning in their lives.
“Class of 2014, you hold your futures, you hold the answers,” Black said.