It was a day of reflection and celebration Saturday as members of the class of 2014 received their diplomas at the Pocahontas County High School commencement ceremony and embarked on the next chapter in their lives.
Allison Jonese, Lyndsee Gay, Lorena Rose and Makeia Jonese reminisced about events of the last four years – a time the class spent learning and growing together.
After the flashbacks, Valedictorian Fredricah Gardner gave her classmates inspiration for the future.
“Whether we’re going into college, technical school, the military or the workforce, it will not be as easy of a life as we are now accustomed to,” she said. “We’ve all been told this, but I hope that the impending intimidation of the future does not hold any of us back from our dreams. Be ready for that smack from reality but also be ready to prove you have what it takes to never quit striving for what you want.”
Gardner shared a quote from basketball great Michael Jordan – a quote that gave her a moment of clarity.
“[It] hit home for me and I hope you all can take something from it, as well,” she said.
“‘I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.’
“Someone as great as Michael Jordan gets knocked down by life but he also picks himself back up and continued putting effort into something he wants to succeed at,” she continued. “That is something that we should all attempt to do with our lives. I wish you all the best in your endeavors, and I hope you all build a life you can be proud of.”
While it was a day to celebrate the graduates, Salutatorian Clay Friel made sure everyone celebrated the people that guided the graduates to succeed over the years.
“We may find it easy to forget all those who helped us throughout our adolescence, but don’t, because these people are the reason we are here today,” he said. “First, I would like to thank my family. Now, I know this is probably expected, but it just needed to be done. My family has guided me through tough situations and also helped me get to places I had previously not thought possible.”
Friel also thanked the custodians and cooks at PCHS who worked diligently to give the students a safe and healthy environment in which to learn. He also thanked the teachers for the education that will help each students pursue his or her dreams.
“Finally, I’d like to thank all my classmates sitting in front of me,” he said. “They’ve helped make high school a time I will never forget. They were always very nice and friendly to me, and I appreciate their company today.
“We’ve given thanks to those whom deserve it,” he continued. “Without these people we may not have done half the things that we’ve been able to do. These people have encouraged us and given us the strength to go for anything we wish.”
Also speaking during the program were Amanda Gibson, Wesley Felton and Garrett McCurdy. Dayla Lambert read the poem, “I Take Him Everywhere,” by Carolyn Connor, and Rebekah Anderson and Linzi Myers performed the song, “You Raise Me Up,” by Josh Groban.
As the newly graduated class of 2014 left the gymnasium, celebrating as the American Authors song, “Best Days of Our Lives,” filled the room, it was evident that the former Warriors were setting out to have more “best days.”
The class of 2014: Matthew Anderson, Rebekah Anderson, Bethany Arbogast, Dylan Baldwin, Karey Barb, Cassaundra Bennett, Josie Biller, Kody Burns, Tyler Channels, Joshua Clark, James Coy, Joseph Coy, Dustin Dilley, Cameron Dunbrack, Susan Erlewine, Wesley Felton, Jennifer Fertig, Austin Friel, Clay Friel, Joseph Friel, Kati Friel, Jacob Fulk, Fredricah Gardner, Lyndsee Gay, Amanda Gibson, Priscilla Grimes, Chyanna Hall, Alexander Hatlerman, Jessalyn Hamilton, Brandon Hamons, Anson Hatfield, Emily Hefner, Kayla Hinkle, Cody Himelrick, David Hoover, Kendra Hubbert, Brooke Irvine, Allison Jonese, Makeia Jonese, Renae Jordan, Marka Kane, Elizabeth Kelley, Alexander Kennison, Ashley Kennison, Francis, LaBounty, Jr., Dayla Lambert, Kara Lane, Nathaniel Langston, Ariel Lester, Charles Martin, Shannen McClure, Rachel McComb, Roseanna McCoy, Garrett McCurdy, Miranda McMillion, Andrew Morrison, Ida Moyers, Linzi Myers, Haley Nelson, Hannah Nelson, Molly Plaugher, Brady Potvin, Brittany Pritt, Seth Ramsey, James Riley, Tiffany Rogers, Devin Rose, Lorena Rose, William Sasser, Dustin Sharp, Alexandra Sisler, Shelbylynn Starks, Danielle Stuart, Lilly Tracy, Judd Walther, Dylan Weatherholt, Thorne Willoughby and Sarah Worth.