WINSTON SALEM — Wake Forest University was host as Forbush High School graduated 212 seniors during its 50th graduation ceremony on June 6.
Wait Chapel was full as friends, family, school staff, faculty and administrators enjoyed speeches that provoked as much laughter as tears.
With observances that the class of 2017 has had a different principal each year of its high school career, Class President Caroline Williams said, “While most classes go out with a bang, we’re ending with a Boomer,” to the ceremony-stopping delight of the audience.
Principal Robert “Boomer” Kennedy entertained the crowd as well, making it a point to be sincere and brief in his remarks at the recommendation of Franklin Roosevelt’s advice on speeches offering three recommendations for graduates.
“You need to fail at some things in your life,” started Kennedy, explaining, “You need to challenge yourself. If you never fail at anything in your life, then you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough or challenging yourself enough.
“Reflect on when you fail and when you succeed,” continued Kennedy. “This is where growth happens. You get better when you fail, reflect and try again. Never stop trying, never stop reflecting on how you can improve and never give up.”
Finally Kennedy advised, “Don’t wish your life away. Your days on this earth are precious and they are numbered. It’s great to look forward to something, but you also have to enjoy the here and now.”
Graduate Karla Burgos already has started to balance both as she is working at the Yadkinville Nursing Center during the summer, although she would rather be in Cancun. “Don’t stop chasing your dreams,” Burgos recommended to other graduates.
Pat Sledge, who was present to watch grandson Huston Edwards walk the stage, agreed, “Follow your dreams. You might struggle, or fall dawn, but get back up and follow through with whatever your goal is.”
Junior marshal Joshua Clark’s father Ted recommended graduates, “work hard. Find a career that you enjoy, whatever that might be.”
That shouldn’t be a problem for 2017 graduates, according to Cathy Conrad, who came to watch grandchildren Logan Doub and Allie Conrad receive their diplomas. “They are so high tech and just so smart,” said Conrad, describing how her grandson took 15 minutes to program a garage door she had worked at for nearly two hours.
With a generation who went, “from Polaroids to Snap Chat,” as pointed out in the salutation by Calyn Davis, technology has been a regular part of their lives unlike those first graduates of Forbush in 1967. It is this technology that will help the Class of 2017 remember their fellow student Marshall Baker, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.
“Some of you have seen more of the ‘real world’ than anyone should have to see at 18 years old,” lamented Kennedy.
“These kids have experienced challenges in our world some of us wish they hadn’t had to see yet,” agreed Sledge, however valedictorian Sierra Winters suggested turning the negative into a positive.
“The more experience you have, the more change you can make,” said Winters, directing fellow students to not allow apathy to mute them. “Dedicate your lives to finding words and expressions that transform silence and stagnation into lively progression.”
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.