ECHHS’s seniors told not to ‘fear failure’

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 04:26 PM

Sometimes, graduating students may have some anxiety over what happens next, East Chapel Hill High senior told his 281 classmates Saturday.

After all, he said, “this is the end of our mandatory education” and the next steps are not as cut-and-dried as simply math, science, or English.

As the students filed into the Dean Smith Center on the UNC campus, East’s band played “Pomp and Circumstance” and the class’s 23 valedictorians settled in.

And as the ceremony continued, for every heartfelt thank-you to faculty, friends and family, there was a on-stage dance break to House of Pain's “Jump Around.” One speech was annotated in Mandarin, one was a rap. One invited the graduates and the audience to take a stretch break, reminding everyone that they were going to be there a while.

Someone openly admitted to leaving her script at home, winged the whole thing from memory, and finished to thunderous applause. There was an impromptu recorder rendition of “Lord of the Dance.” A breakdown of every student archetype, using Harry Potter characters as references, had the crowd in stitches.

Daniel Wittekind said his time at East was “challenging, but I definitely had a good time.” He plans on going to UNC Wilmington in the fall to pursue a degree in international business, as well a crash course in Mandarin. Elianna Golstien said her East experience was “Entertaining, but more interesting than anything else... if that makes sense.”

Ian Levin cited friends and a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College as a few of the most important things to him. But he also singled out lacrosse coach Dominic Koplar, saying “I don't think I ever would have made it without him.” Edie Vandy Jr., a native of Sierra Leone, called East a “great school” and that the involved faculty “really kept you going.”

Emily Burroughs asked her audience to consider the majesty of the turtle. “In order for the turtle to move, it must first leave it's shell. In life there will be many challenges. Instead of hiding in our shells, we will be forced to stick out our necks and face them.”

Geroge de Castro told his class that “If there was one thing I've learned in high school; it's that if you do something, do it with conviction, do it with passion, and do it with fervor. There were far too many times these past few years where I regretted not doing something, and not putting all my effort into something, only because I was worrying about failing... or losing, or being embarrassed.”

He quoted the comedian Charlie Day's recent commencement speech to drive his point home. “You cannot let a fear of failure, or a fear of comparison, or a fear of judgment stop you from doing what you feel is going to make you greay.”