By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The memories, the struggles, the joy.
Those qualities were stressed by the student speakers for Saturday morning’s graduation ceremonies at North Laurel High School.
2013 Senior Class President Kendall Ellington described her high school years as “an unforgettable adventure” that evolved as high school staff and fellow students became like a second family.
“This is only the beginning,” Ellington said. “This is the end of a chapter but the beginning of a whole new book.”
The three valedictorians of the 2013 graduating class of NLHS — Layne Gaynor, Sidney Herrell and Farris Strong — then took their turn at addressing their fellow graduates.
Gaynor outlined the various qualities that had brought his classmates to the commencement program on Saturday morning. Gaynor stressed that of all qualities, perseverance was the most important.
“Constantly try to over achieve because with experience comes change,” Gaynor said. “Without consistency, the soul has nothing to do. With perseverance comes the willpower to never quit. Work hard, take risks. Persevere so we all look forward to the future."
Herrell reminded her classmates of the choices facing the graduates, whether it be to enter the work force, attend college, or enlist in the military.
“Have faith in God’s path for you,” Herrell said. “Walking on the moon or finding the cure for cancer may not be in the plans for most of us. But always have faith in those around you. Look to each other. Have faith to accomplish your goals and have faith in yourself.”
Strong rehashed some of the memories of the senior year, from taking pictures in caps and gowns to preparing for prom.
“This is the threshold of a new journey,” she said. “Today is the beginning of our future. Meet every adversity head on. It is our responsibility to make our community, our state and our country a better place.”
Salutatorian Spencer Bolton carried on the message of hope for the future during his address to the capacity crowd gathered in the NLHS gymnasium.
Bolton’s address quoted George Bernard Shaw in telling his classmates not to ask why, but instead to ask 'why not?'
“Take risks,” he said, “but remember if an opportunity is too good to be true, it could be.”
He then quoted former President Jimmy Carter and encouraged the graduates to “go out on a limb.”
“We cannot stop learning here,” Bolton added. “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
With more than $3 million distributed among the NLHS graduates in scholarships, the 2013 class was comprised of a dozen students who received the Commonwealth Diploma and 47 who received Honors diplomas.