LAURINBURG —For Carrie Dean, Saturday’s graduation from Scotland High School is not the end of a chapter in her life or the lives of her fellow students.
The high school salutatorian told graduates to savor the moment as one of many such experiences to come.
Dean along with Valedictorian Courtney Gunnells served as speakers for the 49th annual commencement exercises for Scotland High School.
Friends and families of Scotland graduates packed Pate Stadium to watch 331 students collect their diplomas. Many were holding gifts of flowers or stuffed animals. Almost all were armed with cameras or cellphones to record the event.
“This is the part where I talk about how today marks the end of a chapter of our lives and hopefully the success for the next chapter ahead,” Dean said.
She added that she thought that was “a pretty poor analogy.”
“Our life is not a book split into chapters with a sharp divide separating who we are from one day to the next,” Dean said. “Rather it is a sentence. Today as momentous as it is, is but a lowly comma in the sentence of our lives.”
She urged her fellow graduates to make their lives sentences that people will want to read.
Dean will attend Yale University in the fall to study political science.
Valedictorian Courtney Gunnells promised to keep her remarks short, to the gratitude of her classmates seated on the field in sweltering heat.
Gunnells said she knew it was her role to give helpful advice to graduates. But she said she was hard-pressed to offer any suggestions since she still lived at home.
“Who am I to give advice?” she said.
Gunnells, who will will attend the Maynor Honors College at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, added that the best advice givers are parents.
“Once they have picked themselves off the floor, you will probably get some pretty good advice,” she said.
Before leaving podium, Gunnells borrowed the cellphone of SHS principal Jonathan McRae to take a selfie over her shoulder of herself and the Class of 2016.
During the ceremony, McRae asked for a moment of silence for Scotland High School senior Kendrick McGirt, who was killed on May 23. The slain 17-year-old’s diploma was presented to his parents during a baccalaureate ceremony last week. His cap and gown were placed on the seat he would have occupied during Saturday’s ceremony.
McGirt was planning to attend Richmond Community College.
“Love you Ken,” one of the graduates yelled out after the brief remembrance.
In the class of 2016, 32 seniors graduated as North Carolina Scholars with 30 having fulfilled the requirements of the National Honors Society, and 53 graduated with highest honors
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023