Failure is not final.
That was among the messages conveyed to the Class of 2019 during their commencement ceremony on Friday.
Under threatening skies, Emily Elizabeth Horton, who delivered the welcome address to graduates, their parents, family and friends. She encouraged her classmates to “pause, reflect and see. … you and only you can turn your sunset into a sunrise.”
Reanna Paige Carico, Salutatorian, said in her senior year was marked with many struggles.
But, “I made it. We all made it,” she said during her presentation “And So Our Journey Begins.”
She also shared some of the lessons she learned: “whatever you do, always make it count; don’t live your life trying to impress others; make lemonade” when handed lemons, and remember “you’re not alone.”
Senior Class Vice President Riya Ashvin Patel took a closer look at the 900 days of high school in her “In 900 Days,” topic. “So much can happen in a short while,” she said, adding that this year was filled with “many lasts” for seniors.
Paraphrasing coach Donnie Rakes, Patel said, “don’t be cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Ella Jane Cooper, senior class president and valedictorian, lightened the tone of the ceremony with a remix of rapper Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”
“Class of 2019, let’s kick it,” she said, and launched into the lyrics. “Alright stop, graduate and listen. PC is back with a brand-new edition. The best class to ever come on stage. … Peace out, PC; Peace out PC.”
Brandon Simmons, chairman of the Patrick County School Board, told the 174 students that graduation “is the first major goal you’ve accomplished in your lives. Today, you have to set new goals. … We believe in you.”
The possibilities for the future are limitless, Schools Superintendent Bill Sroufe said, adding many in the class were entering school when Sroufe first started working in the division.
From the small, tentative steps of kindergarten students to the pride and confidence of seniors, Sroufe said “we have taken this journey together.”
There are “so many facets to these wonderful memories you have collected. Treasure them,” Sroufe said. “Your family has nurtured you. Patrick County High School has guided you. … Instead of the world changing you, you can help change the world.”
Dr. Angeline Godwin, president of Patrick Henry Community College, said she was honored to participate in the ceremony that included a number of “Patriot Cougars.” Godwin was referring to students who earned their high school diploma from PCHS and their associate degree from PHCC.
Trey Cox, principal at PCHS, recognized two students who maintained perfect attendance throughout their 13 years of school – Colby Vernon and Madison Wright.