The Fulton City School District graduating class of 2014, along with hundreds of family, friends and community members gathered in the Fulton Community Center ice rink on Saturday to celebrate the G. Ray Bodley High School seniors’ commencement.
The graduating junior class preceded the parade of graduating seniors into the arena to the standing ovation offered by the community.
Master of ceremonies, high school principal Donna Parkhurst introduced the Senior Select Choir to lead “The Star Spangled Banner”, then asked the morning’s opening speaker, counselor Kelly Rickert, to the podium.
Rickert urged students to have the courage to do what is right and to make hard choices. “Don’t wait until tomorrow to make a difference,” she said, then asked the graduating class to repeat this message, “Today I will make a difference.”
Offering congratulations to the 267 students of the Fulton City School District, Superintendent William Lynch said they demonstrated confidence, ability and resilience. “You are well prepared for the next phase of your life,” the district leader said. “Inspire and be inspired.”
After quoting Kermit the Frog and encouraging the young men and women of the Class of 2014 to value memories and lessons learned, Lynch read “Life” by Mother Teresa.
“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”
Salutatorian Julia Ludington, in her address to fellow graduates, reflected on the uncertainties ahead of commencement day as compared to the first day of kindergarten – when every day for the next 13 years was predetermined.
“Now our future is not so laid out for us,” she said. Although she added that can be a “terrifying” thought, “it is time to embrace the challenges that lie ahead.”
To sum up the most important lessons she learned, she asked, “What would I tell my 5-year-old self?” then answered, “To make good relationships as they will be what makes or breaks your experiences and the person you will become.”
“Find people who will help you mourn, laugh, cry and celebrate,” the high honor student said.
In acknowledging the heartbreak of the entire community, Ludington mentioned Dylan Blair, the G. Ray Bodley High School senior who lost his life tragically in a car accident 11 days before graduation.
The salutatorian encouraged her classmates to honor his passing by being brave.
“Think about the kind of life he would have lived,” she said. “Try to live your life as courageously as you can. … Get out there and enjoy all life has to offer.”
The Class of 2014 Valedictorian Michael Holcomb encouraged his classmates to make their own way and remember how hard they all worked to get to graduation day.
After first apologizing for the poor grammar in the movie, he quoted from “Rocky VI” when Rocky Balboa tells his son not to be a quitter.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows,” the valedictorian read from his notes. “It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. … But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how much you can take and keep moving forward.”
The young man who turned 18 just two weeks before graduation day advised his classmates (to their laughter), “Now I am a man,” but said he did not feel qualified to tell them how to start each of their lives.
Then he added the advice, “Make something beautiful from something less so.”