“Cheerfully remember, but don’t dwell on the past,” senior representative William Campbell told his classmates as they prepared to graduate Saturday morning from Martinsville High School.
Campbell was among 173 graduates of the MHS Class of 2013. In his speech, he noted that they all had looked forward to this day for years, yet there were feelings of sadness as their time together came to an end.
He quoted Winston Churchill, saying, “This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” He urged his fellow graduates to “rejoice” as they enter the next stage of their lives.
“Today marks the day the Class of 2013 takes the world by storm,” Campbell said.
Senior Class President Juliet Ellis gave the welcome address, beginning with a moment of silence in memory of D.J. King, a member of the class of 2013 who recently passed away.
Ellis thanked the students’ parents, families, friends and teachers for their help and support. To her classmates, she said, “Thank you for the time we’ve spent together, the friends we’ve made,” as well as the bright futures stretching before them.
School Superintendent Pam Heath urged graduates to “live with integrity. Never lose your sense of whimsy, creativity and imagination.”
Heath noted that the graduates’ generation is unique. The graduates are true “digital natives,” meaning they have never known a time without cell phones and the Internet.
“You have access to all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips,” and can carry hundreds of music CDs and books in their pockets, she said.
The amount of time teenagers spend staring at a cell phone or computer screen sometimes causes older generations to “worry that you are disconnected,” but that is not true, Heath said. “In fact, you are totally connected in your digital world.”
Thanks to their connectivity to people all over the world, members of this generation will truly become global citizens, and their global awareness causes them to care deeply about the future of the planet, she said.
“It’s not a question of will you change the world; it’s a question of how,” Heath said. “The possibilities before you are mind-boggling.”
Before awarding the diplomas, Heath recognized several students who wore black stoles to signify their commitment to the military after graduation. She asked them to stand “so that we may thank you for your service in advance.”
Also recognized during the commencement ceremonies were students who earned academic distinction, including 23 who made the Superintendent’s List for maintaining 4.0 grade-point averages or higher throughout high school, and 33 who earned the Big M trophy for maintaining a 3.7 or higher cumulative GPA throughout high school while enrolled in at least one honors class. Nine additional students earned the Big M certificate for having a 3.7 or higher GPA in their senior year.
Twenty-three students graduated with associate degrees from Patrick Henry Community College in addition to their high school diploma, earned through Martinsville’s ACE (Accelerated College Education) program.
Thirty-seven graduates were members of the National Honor Society, and 41 were members of the National Technical Honor Society.
(Kim Buck is the community outreach and grants coordinator for the Martinsville Public Schools.)