2018-05-31 / Front Page

Graduation moves inside for 99 in Class of 2018

The weather and threat of worse weather prompted a change of venue for Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School graduation exercises last Friday night from Tiger Stadium to the high school’s gymnasium. And while neither the setting nor the acoustics were ideal, a capacity crowd of family and friends still found a way to revel in the excitement of celebrating the accomplishment of the 99 seniors who graduated.

Thursday night prior to graduation, members of the W-WCHS graduating Class of 2018 were recognized for their achievements at the school’s Senior Banquet. As expected, Lykah Mora was announced as the class valedictorian and Justin Moore earned the honor as salutatorian.

Other honor graduates included STAR Student Brenton Bailey, Colton Bearse, Pasha Blackmon, Bailey Brock, Nailah Jones, Erin McAvoy, Jose Olalde, and Garrett Tawzer.

At Friday night’s graduation, walking to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” the graduating seniors were led into the gymnasium by marshals Yamille Adams and Ryanna Mercier. Serving as ushers were junior class members Tyresius Cross, Nydia Person, Johnathan Ramirez, and Chanel Wingfield.


The W-WCHS Class of 2018 marches in (left) for commencement exercises in the school gymnasium, and then celebrates after the all clear to “turn your tassels” after graduation last Friday. 
(Photos by Mercer Harris) The W-WCHS Class of 2018 marches in (left) for commencement exercises in the school gymnasium, and then celebrates after the all clear to “turn your tassels” after graduation last Friday. (Photos by Mercer Harris) Those in attendance were welcomed by Class Secretary Maleekia Wright and Class Treasurer Ta’aliyah Booker offered the invocation. Top students, including valedictorian Mora, salutatorian Moore, STAR Student Bailey, and Class President Tenoria Tate, then addressed those in attendance.

Mora encouraged all her classmates and others to pursue their passions and dreams but added caution “because we all know that our cookie-cutter plans that we have for ourselves don’t always fit the mold that life intends for us.” Quoting President Barack Obama, she said the real test is not avoiding failure or setback, but rather “it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.”

“The true success that creates a lasting impact not only on others, but on yourself, the feeling of pride and accomplishment you get, is when you overcome a setback,” she added.

Mora also advised her classmates not to be distracted by criticism.

“Whenever I had struggles, I’ve noticed the people who gave the best advice were the people who endured the most. They were the people whose cookie-cutter plans just didn’t work out, or wavered from the path a little bit,” she said. “They were the people who had criticism, yet did not let that encompass them.”

Turning to encouragement, the valedictorian said, “My wish for the class of 2018, and everyone here, is to not only chase his or her dreams relentlessly, but to work for them, not only dream. You can not climb the ladder of success if you only dream of being at the top. You will only stay at the bottom looking up while someone else takes the rungs and climbs.

“Though the climb may be high and sometimes frightening,” she continued, “I hope you never look down ... for that is not the direction in which your goals and dreams are located.”

Similarly, Moore challenged his classmates to know what their dreams are and follow them. “Find something that motivates you, no matter how big or small,” he said. “Find your passion!” To this point, he added, his passions had been academics and music.

“Don’t just come up with your dreams, follow them,” he said, and he referenced The Rocky Horror Picture Show familiar saying, “Don’t dream it, be it.”

In offering other tips of advice, Moore said, “We must learn to win with the cards that we have been dealt ... Do what makes you uncomfortable ... Make yourself vulnerable, it is only then you can grow ... Don’t say you’re going to do something, do what Nike says best, ‘Just Do It.’”

After relaying an account of his own setback with the music school at the University of Georgia, Moore said, “When your dreams seem to crash and burn, use it to your advantage to see what you can be doing better. This really helps you realize what you really want to do with your life as well. I like to think of rock bottom as a foundation to grow on.”

Bailey observed that “when one door shuts, a hundred more open. Every one of us is closing a door and has a multitude before us to choose from. Some lead to very normal lives, some lead to extraordinary lives, and come, no matter how much we hate it, lead to places that no one wants to be.”

He finished with words of encouragement, telling his classmates to “be courageous. Don’t dwell on the past. Always look forward to the next step in life. Know what you can change in life and chase your dreams with all the fierceness that you can muster and maybe you will open the door that leads to the place you most desire.”

Speaking for her classmates as their president, Tenoria Tate said, “On behalf of the class of 2018, I would like to thank each and every parent or guardian ... Throughout the years, we know we put you through a lot but with- out your love, care, and undeniable support, we couldn’t have made it without you.”

Tate characterized her class as “the best class ever to walk through the doors of W-WCHS. Our mixture of intelligence, disruptiveness, athleticism, and humor made a great impact over the past four years.”

After the addresses, W-WCHS Principal Robert Wheeler presented a diploma to each of the graduates, and Wilkes County Superintendent Dr. Rosemary W. Caddell certified the graduates with the words the students have waited 12 years to hear: “Graduates of the Class of 2018, you may turn your tassels!”

After the Tiger Band played the recessional, families and friends followed the time-honored tradition of hugging, congratulating, and taking photos of their new graduates.

Senior class advisors at W-WCHS are Jessica Clarke, Don Keiser, Michelle Mickens, Jarrod Toner, T.C. Jay, Brian Lewis, LaVonda Tanner, and Drew Wilson.

The annual presentation of the graduates’ senior photos is included in this issue of The News-Reporter beginning on page 13.

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