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SHS grads reminded, ‘We are family’

Straughn High School Valedictorian Elizabeth Porter addressed her 81 classmates last night, and said that SHS is not like other schools.

“I know I cannot speak for every single person here,” Porter said. “But I can speak for the majority of my peers by saying that Straughn High School is not like other schools. We are a very close-knit community. We all know each other pretty well, for the most part. We know when other’s struggle and we are empathetic. We help each other, and that’s why we are family.”

Porter said that another thing that makes the SHS Class of 2019 unique is its resilience.

“We take the obstacles life throws us as opportunities,” Porter said. “I know there are several students beside me who have been through more than some of you could imagine. In our graduating class, I am proud to say we have teen moms, orphans, foster children, students in poverty, students from broken homes, and independents who have done nothing but work hard to get where they are. Instead of sitting back and allowing their situations to get the best of them, these students rose above and beat the odds. Usually these students are the least likely to graduate of any other student but yet, here we are. I am proud to be graduating alongside you. If no one has told you congratulations for graduating, I will.”

At the end of the day, Porter went on to say, a circumstance is a circumstance.

“Nothing more, nothing less,” Porter said. “A circumstance has nothing to do with your potential. Your potential is determined strictly by your work ethic. We are in control of our own lives. After today, we are all equal. Yes, I might have graduated as valedictorian, but at the end of the day, we all know it is just a title. After we all get our 20 seconds of fame, we will all start our lives with freshly-earned high school diplomas. You can do what you want with that diploma. You can go to college, you can join the workforce, you can learn a trade, you can join the military or you can do absolutely nothing with it. The choice is yours. After all, it doesn’t matter where you have been, it matters where you are going.”

SHS salutatorian David Dillard agreed with Porter, saying that the Class of 2019 still has a long way to go.

“Tonight might seem like the end to some,” Dillard said. “And in some ways it is. Tonight we leave behind all we know in the hopes that we might find success somewhere else. And that, my friends, is why graduation is only the beginning. We have all found our own successes throughout our twelve years of education, but now it is time to seek real achievement. Graduation is the time for us to journey out into the unknown that is adulthood in order to forge ourselves an independently happy life. High school coming to an end might seem frightening or sad, but I am here to tell you that it shouldn’t be. Think how much you have planned for the future without even realizing it. We hardly consider the fact that all throughout high school the main thing we have prepared for is what comes after.”

Dillard encouraged his fellow classmates to not give up at the first inconvenience in life.

“Things obviously aren’t that easy,” Dillard said. “Life has its challenges to throw your way, but we can’t give up at the first inconvenience. With focus and hard work, we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. This doesn’t mean that achievements will be handed to us on a silver platter, however, because there will be obstacles. During school we had our parents to make these difficult choices for us, but not anymore. We don’t have their hands to hold as we walk down the dangerous street of life. We must look ourselves and decide when it is safe to cross. So, go on, do what you feel is right for your future, but do keep in mind that you don’t have that safety net to break your fall anymore.”