That was the official motto for the 35 Hannan seniors that collectively took part in commencement ceremonies Saturday morning at the Hannan Junior/Senior High School gymnasium in Mason County.
It was a day of both pride and reflection for the Class of 2011, as each member of the 35-strong class shared in hugs, tears and numerous laughs en route to becoming the 82nd group to come away from HHS with diplomas in hand.
And although their respective journeys leading up to this day have been uniquely different, Salutatorian Samantha Jo Mayes noted that this class has collectively proven themselves ready for the world.
“B.C. Forbes once said, ‘History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats,’” Mayes said. “What better way could we describe our graduating class than with that quote. During our whole entire Hannan experience, we’ve always faced some sort of obstacle.”
Mayes acknowledged the lack of classrooms in seventh grade during the renovation period at Hannan, as well as the delay of school in eighth grade because of those same renovations.
She also noted that once the building was completed, the problems didn’t entirely go away — as a lack of teachers and supplies made things difficult for this class to achieve its maximum potential.
However, as she mentioned shortly afterwards, the bumps in the road weren’t enough to stop this group from reaching its primary destination.
“Although we were faced with those problems, we still arose victorious. And during that whole phase, we still managed to make life-long memories,” Mayes said. “We are glad that we stand here with you today as we begin the rest of our lives.”
Valedictorian Martin Alexander Edmunds followed by addressing the graduates about their futures — whatever those may lead to.
“I, like my fellow classmates, am at a crossroad. The road before me offers two paths,” Edmunds said. “Robert Frost wrote, ‘I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence. Two road diverged in a wood and I … I took the once less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.’
“Friends, we have the opportunity to travel whichever road we choose. Sometimes the more difficult path is the most fulfilling one. Like a diamond, we must be put under pressure to shine. I challenge each and every one of you to shine when under pressure.”
Edmunds also advised his classmates to remember what was truly important in their upcoming endeavors.
“On this journey we are preparing to embark on, I want all of us to take the time to reflect upon a central truth,” Edmunds said. “Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.”
The day started with Stephanie Lynn Dillon leading the Pledge of Allegiance, which was followed by Hannan Junior/Senior High School Principal, Dr. Karen Oldham, giving the greeting and introduction of guests.
Clint Pemberton recognized the honors graduates from the class, which was followed by speeches from both Mayes and Edmunds. Dr. Oldham then presented the class to Superintendent Suzanne Dickens, who accepted the Class of 2011 as graduates.
Members of the Mason County Board of Education — Dale Shobe, Michael Cottrill, Jr., Tom Nunnery, Randy Searls and Teresa Warner — then presented diplomas to each of the 35 graduates. Shelbie Dawn Waugh closed the ceremony by instructing the class on the crossing of their tassels.
Graduating with high honors include: Martin Alexander Edmunds, the son of Martin and Tammy Edmunds of Milton; and Samantha Jo Mayes, the daughter of Dwayne and Teresa Mayes of Ashton.
The honor graduates of the Class of 2011 are: Michael Danielle Tuesday Allen, Kendra Dawn Black, Sarah Dawn Cottrell, Stephanie Lynn Dillon, Jasmine Marie Nicole Hutchinson and Shelbie Dawn Waugh.
Other members of the senior class are: Krista LeDawn Aeiker, Derrick Riley Akers, Sara Mae Arbogast, Faith Christin Barker, Delmer Darrin James Black, Angelica Marie Brumfield, Emily Ann Brumfield, Abigail Dawn Bush, Laurah Anne Bush, Colton Brett Campbell, Dakota Jayson Campbell, Jasmine Lee Campbell, Sandra Kay Chapman, Corey Wayne Childers, Samantha Gail Childers, Shane Aaron Cornell, Robert William Crank II, Cody Earl Cupp, Gregory Scott Edwards, Melissa Jane Gibson, Michael Dillon Griffith, William Grant Holley, James Richard Hughes, Jr., Alexander Raymond Lane, Daniel James Reynolds, Teona Sher’ee Stover and Christie Jo Williams.