LAURINBURG — Exhorted by valedictorian Katie Collins to savor the moment, many in Scotland High School’s class of 2015 did just that on Saturday, boldly striding across the graduation stage in the culmination of 13 years of study.
Friends and families of Saturday’s graduates packed Pate Stadium before the ceremony’s early but already sweltering start, perhaps subdued by the heat into heeding Scotland High principal Greg Batten’s request to keep cheering to a minimum until all 344 students had collected their diplomas.
“We’re glad to be here to celebrate with you, but please refrain from yelling during name calling, so that each student can hear their name called,” said Batten. “Each family member deserves to hear that.”
An aspiring English major, Collins opened her speech with Robert Frost’s well-known poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which ends with the familiar line “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
At the end of her recitation, Collins added a few modifications to accurately reflect the hectic life of an ambitious high school senior.
“As I have already quoted it, I feel now is a fit time to paraphrase it: miles to go before I sleep, and exams to take before I sleep, and homework to do before I sleep, and projects to finish before I sleep, and applications to submit before I sleep, and essays to write before I sleep, and novels to read before I sleep, and family to see before I sleep, and friends to text before I sleep!”
Collins, who will attend the University of North Carolina to study English and musical theater, reflected on the last moment that the class of 2015 would spend together before moving ahead into jobs, colleges, or the military.
“This is our moment, however this moment is just a breath, so breathe deep,” she said. “Before much time has passed, we’ll be stepping into the future.
“No matter what’s going on in your life right now, take this moment and cherish it, because we all made it here and in this moment we deserve to be happy.”
She left her classmates with a life lesson retained from a bookmark she received in chorus class as a sophomore.
“As we walk forward to our own unique paths to chase our own ambitions and follow our own dreams, may we always keep working towards whatever goals we are trying for, and never quit,” said Collins.
In the class of 2015, 31 seniors graduated as North Carolina Scholars, 57 having fulfilled the requirements of the National Honors Society, and 67 graduated with highest honors.
Salutatorian Christian Kang promised to keep his remarks short, to murmurs of gratitude from classmates with their eyes on the prize — and on the thermometer.
Kang refrained from thanking by name the teachers, friends, and family members who have influenced and inspired him, so as not to overshadow the role played by innumerable teachers, coaches, and role models in shaping the class of 2015.
Kang will attend Virginia Tech to study engineering.
“Each one of us has lived and experienced our own story of Scotland High School, and the memories we cherish are unique to each of us,” said Kang. “Instead, I want to recognize the entire class of 2015 for their hard work and dedication. We have all worked to achieve this final goal, and I believe we should all be proud of this accomplishment.”
After wishing his classmates luck, Kang may have had to resist an urge to drop the microphone then and there.
“Don’t be afraid to take risks, because if you don’t build your dream, somebody else will hire you to help build theirs.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.