Middle College High School graduates equipped with perseverance, independence

May. 22, 2014 @ 06:28 PM

With the freedom that Middle College High School students are given, it’s “impossible” to get through without perseverance and independence, 18-year-old school graduate Elizabeth Smedley said.

The school, on the campus of Durham Technical Community College, allows juniors and seniors to take college-level classes as well as high school courses. Smedley, who delivered this year’s commencement address for the school, was one of 60 graduates in the 2014 graduating class.

“Every single person on this earth is faced with challenges,” Smedley said, explaining that she believes there’s a divide between the people who choose to persevere and those who choose to make excuses for failure.

She said she had to choose between perseverance and despair when she found out that her mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to describing how perseverance was important for the students at Middle College High School, she said the quality as well as independence will also serve the graduates in the future.

This year’s graduating class is leaving the school with more than 1,571 college credit-hours that they can transfer to a university, said school Principal Charles Nolan, and after acquiring more than $957,000 in scholarship money.

Standing in the line of graduates before the ceremony, Sierra Daniels, 18, said she was excited to be graduating from Middle College High School. She said she learned to make her own new experiences at the school.

A hallmark moment for her was passing her first college class with an “A.” It was an English class, she said, and she had never written that many papers before. She said she expects to be prepared for college, where she plans to pursue a pre-nursing major.

Seventeen-year-old Raya Martinez said she was feeling a mix of emotions before the graduation ceremony.

She described her time at Middle College High School as interesting and wonderful. There were times of intense stress, others of happiness when her work paid off, and others that were less so when her work did not.

She plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study physics.

“It’s definitely the start of something new, and the end of something old,” she said.

Hailey Williams, 18, said she was both nervous and excited. She said she’s ready to move on to Greensboro College, where she plans to study medical ultrasonography.

Middle College High School was challenging but fun, she said, and she got both a high school and a college experience.

“I’m done, I made it!” said 17-year-old Chase Waldt, who plans to go on to study nursing at Cape Fear Community College. She said she had ups and downs at Middle College High School, but also described it an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.