Riverside grads on the move
Alisha Anaya could not help but note the irony when introducing her friend and Riverside High School valedictorian Cameron McNeill during Wednesday’s commencement exercise.
Cameron was named after the very gymnasium – Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium – in which Riverside’s graduation was taking place.
But in the fall, in spite of it all, Cameron will take his academic talents about eight miles west to archrival UNC Chapel Hill.
“This fall, the boy named for Cameron Indoor Stadium will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a Morehead-Cain scholarship,” Anaya told the more than 370 graduates and hundreds of family members and friends who attended the ceremony.
After that, Anaya took a selfie with Cameron on stage to capture for posterity a moment that is sure to be a topic of dinner table conversations for years to come.
Cameron also chimed in on the subject.
“I got one thing to say to you Mom and Dad, ‘Go Heels!’” Cameron said.
In a speech intertwined with quotes from pop singer Miley Cyrus, rapper Drake and the character Ricky Bobby from the film “Talladega Nights, Cameron used humor to drop a little knowledge on his classmates.
Cameron took issue with Ricky Bobby’s assertion in the movie that, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
He said being last isn’t always a bad thing.
“You want to be the last to leave the gym, the last to leave study hall,” Cameron said. “Those are the people who will improve and eventually reach their full potential.”
Principal Joel County thanked parents for their support and the school’s faculty for their hard work.
“This is a staff that works hard and cares passionately about the school and students,” County said.
He also cited students, particularly the seniors, for being a group that had shown compassion for fellow students.
“I’ve seen you stand up for yourselves and say no to bullying and violence, not in my house,” County said.
After the graduation, Schuyler Wright, 17, with fresh diploma in hand, said she was feeling excited about having just graduated.
“I’m excited about moving on to the next state in my life,” Wright said.
In the fall, Wright said she will attend UNC Wilmington where she will study physical therapy.
Bryan Antunez, 18, was also excited about graduating and heading to East Carolina University in the fall to study engineering.
“I’m excited, happy and pumped, I guess is the best way to describe it,” Antunez said. “I’m just glad to graduate after all those years of hard work and now it’s finally paying off.”