On Friday, 30 students from the Yadkin Early College received their diplomas at a commencement ceremony held at Union Grove Baptist Church in Yadkinville.
Speaking on behalf of the Yadkin Early College Class of 2016 were students Jessica Lynne Brown, Savanna Rae Powell, Taylor Brooke Edwards, Kerry Aguilera Pineda and Cirilo Benitez Cabrera.
“Reflecting on the last five years at the Early College makes me both sad and happy,” said valedictorian Jessica Brown. “I am sad because I have to leave a place that has become my home, but I am so very happy to be standing before you today accepting my diploma.”
Brown said the early college had changed her life. She said the school gave her a greater sense of self-worth and confidence.
“In the future don’t worry about your abilities, don’t worry what you can and can’t do. Worry about your choices. Make good choices and let those choices define you. Hold tight to what you’ve learned,” Brown encouraged her classmates.
Salutatorian Savanna Powell spoke on responsibility and making good choices with a fearless attitude.
“The ability to have choices and the right to make them, this is the part of our lives that we should never let fear take hold of,” Powell said. “If we can embrace this with all of our heart, the success that we will reach will be surpassed by anything our imagination has lead us to believe.”
Taylor Edwards spoke about the importance of integrity, Kerry Pineda about respect and Cirilo Cabrera spoke about honesty. The students shared stories of their time together and encouraged one another to continue to pursue their dreams.
Sharing his advice with the graduates as the commencement guest speaker was Dr. Todd Martin, superintendent of Yadkin County Schools.
Martin said he was honored to speak at the graduation, a once in a lifetime celebration for the students.
He encouraged the students to think about their journey from when they began as freshmen at the school, when they joined the Yadkin Early College Wolfpack. Martin said the students exemplified the qualities of perseverance, dependability and authenticity.
“No matter where you go after you leave here, always remember that you were part of the pack,” Martin told the graduates. “I wish each of you the best no matter where you go from here. My prayer is that you will all lead lives that you find fulfilling.”
Early College Principal Tracy Kimmer expressed his pride in the accomplishments of the students. He recognized students for the community service hours they have completed, clubs they had started and scholarships and other honors the students had received. Many of the students graduating not only left the commencement with their high school diplomas, but with associate degrees from Surry Community College as well.
“This graduating class leaves a great testimony that 12 out of 30 earned a degree from Surry Community College,” Kimmer said.
“The challenge is to continue your academic journey and community involvement,” Kimmer told the Yadkin Early College Class of 2016. “Go into your future with the same work ethic and drive that you have demonstrated over the past five years. I wish all of you happiness and success in all future endeavors.”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.