West Iredell graduates celebrate milestone moment
STORY BY BRANDY TEMPLETON
PHOTOS BY MORGAN HOOKS
Tears and smiles were abundant as West Iredell High School celebrated the Class of 2019 Saturday morning.
Angie Vasquez-Lopez opened with a prayer asking God to “grant grace and courage to the ones who’ve worked hard.”
She also encouraged the senior class, “As they face unknown challenges, have them turn to Jesus,” she said.
Principal Ellyn Gaither greeted the graduates by saying, “Today is my favorite day.” She spoke of seeing the progress the students made from their days as freshmen to the young adults she watched walk across the stage.
The class, she said, earned $1.5 million in scholarships.
Gaither quoted Henry Ford, saying, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Honor Speaker Justin Dagenhart thanked the parents and teachers who helped the students graduate.
The crowd laughed as he told his peers they wouldn’t have the school secretary, Cricket Barnette, yelling at them through the intercom to get to class.
He encouraged his classmates to be prepared because “success favors the prepared.”
Salutatorian Julianna Hopes cried as she spoke to her class, saying how things change and friends leave.
“I’ll miss walking into my mom’s room and telling her about my day,” she said. “I’ll miss having my dad there in less than five minutes.”
Hopes said that life doesn’t care how well you adapt to changes, so everyone must embrace them and “not let the little things distract you from your goal.”
She ended by saying that the class of 2019 has proven resilient.
Valedictorian Ryan Horne told his classmates not to get sad or discouraged. He mentioned that he’s already missing high school but excited about the next step.
“Our memories will last forever,” Horne said. “We don’t know what we are in for, but we are fully capable of handling it.”
Graduate Will Godfrey said he is relieved it was over.
“It’s great. Another weight is off my shoulders,” he said. “We made another milestone.”