West Stanly High School has 155 early graduates – The Stanly News & Press
In front of a stadium full of friends, family and loved ones, 155 West Stanly seniors walked on stage and received their diplomas as part of the early 2022 drills.
West Stanly principal Anne McLendon presided over the ceremony and helped present the diplomas along with assistant principals Linsdey Merritt and Marty Ingram, as well as West Stanly teacher Thomas LaBianca. Board of Education members Glenda Gibson and Carla Poplin, along with Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Kecia Coln, represented Stanly County Schools.
First student honors speaker Eden Campos reflected on the growth of herself and her classmates over four years of high school, congratulating the graduates “for reaching this goal and overcoming all obstacles”.
Campos mentioned the year of the pandemic, saying teacher Wes Herlocker told him students would not be back after their extended spring break.
“I laughed at him, called him too dramatic. But of course two weeks passed and we didn’t go back to school,” Campos said.
Speaking to Herlocker, she said: ‘I’m not saying much, but I guess you were right. And for the first time in my life, I was wrong.
Regarding time away from school, she said: “Not only did we have to adjust to our new reality, but we were just teenagers starting to understand each other. I know that for me, discovering myself was something I did on my own and through the experiences of my friends. Their successes were mine, as were their heartbreaks and depressions.
Campos thanked her mother, who she said came to America when she was 18.
“I hope you see me and are proud of me, like I’m proud of you,” she said.
After speaking to her mother in Spanish, she continued, “To my Latino community, just know that things may be tough for us, but I know we have the power and the potential to change the world. Our successes will pave the way for future generations.
To her classmates, she said, “Thank you for showing me all the different ways to define success.”
McLendon asked graduates to advocate for those entering the workforce, going to college and those entering military service for recognition. She also mentioned that the West Stanly Class of 2022 won $6 million in scholarship funds.
Stella Griffin, president of the school’s National Honor Society, was the next student to speak, earning a round of laughter from the crowd when she said she had been voted “worst driver” as her senior superlative.
Griffin shared the story of a senior colleague who struggled to get financial aid for college, saying she came to her frustrated when the paperwork was missing, after having redone it “six or seven times “.
She said she was with the student when she found out she had received $21,000 from UNC-Chapel Hill.
“She knew she got it, and I know a lot of us got it too. Whether you struggled to get the credits to graduate, to find the motivation to pass the exam , I want to congratulate each of you for figuring it out,” Griffin said.
“As we move forward, I encourage you to do the same. If there’s something you can’t find a solution to, please continue.
Griffin also said, “We have to muster the courage…to do the right thing no matter what the circumstances.”
Special music was performed by senior Sophie Tucker as she strummed the guitar and sang “Rivers and Roads” from The Head and the Heart.
The farewell speech was delivered by Vanessa Perez.
“I hope the best years of your life are yet to come…whether you’re going to college, entering the workforce, or entering the military, I hope those years at West Stanly have helped you prepare for your future.”
The students were pronounced graduates by McLendon and moved their tassels on their mortarboard hats from right to left. Hats flew through the air during the graduation celebration.