The class of 2021 heard a recurring and powerful theme during their final moments at Hayesville High School: Be the author of your own great life story.
Eighty-three graduates received this challenge as they were honored for their academic performance and received their high school diplomas upon graduation on Friday June 4 in Hayesville.
“This class is really ready for college and career,” said Superintendent Dale Cole. “It’s a tribute to their families, their extended families, the support this community provides and the staff who are sitting here tonight. I challenge you to live a life of integrity and happiness worthy of what you have learned.
Cole praised the class for winning a total of $ 1.6 million in scholarships, numerous professional certifications under the Vocational Technical Education program, and 11 associate degrees in the arts. He also applauded the character of the students and thanked the community for their patience during a school year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cole encouraged the class to adopt successful lifestyles, such as being proactive rather than reactive, facing challenges with an end goal in mind, and prioritizing aspects of their lives knowing that there will never be enough. time or money to do it all at once. He also challenged them to “live a great story,” which echoes the words of honorary graduate speaker Reagan Bunch.
“As we move away, the fraction of our lives spent on this campus will start to shrink and we will continue to write the stories of our own lives, knowing full well that the first chapter was written here,” Bunch said. “As you write your stories, I encourage you to think about the ones you wrote before. Stories from the lives of generations whose lives have shaped our own.
Bunch’s post centered on his own grandfather, Robert Woodard, born in 1931 and having served in the Korean War. He returned home after the war from a failed marriage that quickly ended in divorce.
After graduating from Florida State University in 1956, Woodard hitchhiked across the country to California to find a young woman he had met in Florida. They eventually married and had two children and five grandchildren, including Bunch.
Bunch said his grandfather later struggled with alcoholism, which worsened as retirement approached. An open-hearted conversation with his young adult daughter ultimately convinced him that if he didn’t stop drinking, he would probably never live to meet his grandchildren.
Bunch has told his fellow graduates that their own lives will be filled with a mix of times like those his grandfather faced, from happy occasions like graduation day to tough days at others. moments. But when someone is the author of their own story, they have the power to write exciting new chapters – and maybe even a happy ending.
“My grandfather never had another sip of alcohol because he wanted to meet me and my siblings,” Bunch said. “At 90, he’s here today. He not only had the opportunity to meet me, he saw me write my own life story.
“Go ahead, class of 2021 and write a bestseller. “