WEST JEFFERSON-Ashe County’s Class of 2016 can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
They’ve made it, and they’re now officially high school graduates.
Friday’s graduation ceremony at the Ashe County High School gym was the formal culmination of 13 years of hard work and perseverance.
It was also the capstone event to weeks of build-up and anticipation as these seniors – showered with support from family and friends – begin their first real plunge into adulthood.
As valedictorian Katie Orr said, it is their “commencement of lives as individual adults.”
Friday’s ceremony was also about reflection.
During her speech, Orr talked about “overcoming society’s expectations of proper and good” and how important it was to find solace in the face of heartache.
She also talked about shared suffering and hardship, and she reminded her classmates that they will find themselves people who admire their quirks.
Salutatorian Laura Calhoun said high school was a time to grow and transition into adulthood. She said she would avoid making “sweeping generalizations” about each of her classmates individual experiences, but how they all have to embark on this huge chapter of life together.
Above all else, she spoke about the importance of decency and being kind to everyone you meet.
Ashe County’s newest graduates is an accomplished group. Calhoun, for example, is the first from Ashe County to attend Washington and Lee University. She is not alone in her success. As a whole, the class of 2016 accepted roughly $1.9 million in scholarship money.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.