Person graduates: 'Look how far we've come'

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 04:33 PM

There was the pomp. The circumstance. The misty-eyed memories and forlorn farewells clashing with a yearning to be free of classroom drudgery. The beckoning call of a bright future, and the wisdom of Ferris Bueller. 

With that, the Person High School Class of 2014 was christened in the sun-kissed football stadium Saturday morning with diplomas and entreaties to claim their destinies in the metamorphosis awaiting outside their classroom cocoons.

“Thank you Jesus,” one exuberant man yelled loudly from the stands when Hunter Timothy Brooks was called to receive his diploma.

 “Four years ago we were wandering aimlessly. But look how far we’ve come,” commencement speaker Jonathan Michael Carver told his fellow graduates. “Today, Class of 2014, we are sitting with tomorrow’s businessman, lawyers, open heart surgeons, professional Ping-Pong players, and Walmart executives.”

 “If you want to be a tattoo artist, be a tattoo artist. If you want to be a dog whisperer, be a dog whisperer,” Carver said in a speech laced with as many laughter-inducing lines as it was points to ponder.

Carver, who plans to attend Cape Fear Community College, invoked the names of some of his heroes, such as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Mississippi bluesman Albert King and Microsoft magnate Bill Gates.

“They did the same thing we did. Started from the bottom,” Carver said. “But you want to know what separates them from other people? Their ambition. These great heroes had a plan. They had goals and didn’t stop until they reached them.”

He also reminded his fellow graduates of the sage advice of Matthew Broderick’s hooky-playing lead character in the 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” he said.

Sidney Katelyn Chambers, who plans to attend East Carolina University, told her fellow graduates that graduation “is just the beginning of the greatest celebration: The rest of our lives.”

Cristina Villalpando, who will attend UNC Chapel Hill, encouraged the Class of 2014 to love what they do, and through sharing their happiness they will inspire and uplift others.

“We should embrace who we are with confidence, and pursue what we want regardless of what others say,” Villalpando said.

As he shed his cap and gown after the ceremony, Robert Thomas Bowes Jr. said his education at Person High School prepared him well to pursue a law degree at North Carolina Central University in Durham. His Future Farmer of America classes “gave me leadership skills that I will use in the future.”

 “It feels good knowing that all these four years of hard work, all the time that’s been used studying, doing all these tests, staying up countless hours in the night, it was all worth it just to walk across the stage,” Bowes said.

Nearby, Kayla Clay said her best friends helped pull her through the challenges of a senior year that included pregnancy. 

“I plan on having my child and then going on to the military, the Navy or the Army,” Clay said. “I want to be in the medical field.”

In one simple aphorism, Andrea Marlene Alcantara, secretary of the Person High School Student Council, summed up the message of the day: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Instead, smile because it happened.”