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Valedictorian: ‘You Have One Life, Do Something’

Valedictorian Graham K. Bryant and Salutatorian Fallon O. Farmer challenged the Halifax County High School (HCHS) Class of 2010 to unselfishly live for others and to take advantage of every opportunity presented as they delivered addresses during commencement exercises Friday evening.

More than 410 seniors received their diplomas with 50 select students receiving associate degrees through Southside Virginia Community College.

Bryant, Farmer and Megan T. Owen gave commencement addresses, and HCHS Principal Albert T. Randolph recognized the “Top 10” seniors.

Bryant, Farmer, Owen, Cianne R. Townsend, Luke V. Ligon, David A. Landrum Jr., Julia S. Simon, Dylan S. Lowery, Grace R. Gillis-Crouch and Krystal D. Childrey each received a $500 scholarship and a certificate recognizing them as Moorefield Scholars Friday evening.

In his address to fellow graduates, Bryant challenged, “You have one life, do something.

“In these few years, everyone has had the opportunity to earn an education superior to that of many American students, and certainly one finer than those of students in other countries where a free public education is not a right.

“Our high school educations are currently the most valuable assets we have. This education will be the springboard from which the Class of 2010 will launch itself into college, the military, or the workforce. Likewise, this education will be the tool we use to fix the myriad of problems faced by not only the nation, but also the world at large,” Bryant told the senior class.

“So, despite what we may think of our education, merely possessing it places us in an extreme minority on the world stage. We, who have it all: food, clothing, shelter, an education, stand poised to change this world, hopefully for the better.

“However, our advantages come with a duty. This planet is populated with people who have none of our comforts. People who are concerned with where their next meal will come from, not global politics. People who must spend their time searching for clean water, not gaining an education to raise themselves out of poverty.

“By virtue of possessing such an education, we have the potential to make our country, our planet, better, not only for ourselves, but for those who cannot help themselves. Each of us only has one life in which to apply the lessons we have already learned and will continue to learn. Simply earning a successful living, though an admirable goal, is no longer enough. We must use the tools at our disposal to make a difference in our neighborhoods, our communities, and thus, our world. To move forward like the generations before us, we cannot simply live complacently; we must actively serve others.

“This, Class of 2010, is my challenge to you,” Bryant said in closing.

“As we leave the comfortable familiarity of high school and enter the world, do not live for yourself. Live for others. You already have the tools needed to find success in your life. Whether you meet that success will be determined by how you use those tools in the time you have on earth. You have one life. Do something.”

In her salutatorian speech, Farmer thanked all those who made graduation possible for the Class of 2010.

“We couldn’t have gotten here today without a tremendous amount of help. I’d like to take this time to thank the teachers and staff of Halifax County High School for putting up with our antics for the past four years, but mostly for the education they have provided for us. Thank you for laying the foundation for us to build our lives upon. 

“Most importantly, I would like to thank those who have been there for us every step of the way− the parents, grandparents, and relatives who have guided us and supported us throughout the years. I would like to thank you for all your help and support when we were stressed out about schoolwork; for transporting us back and forth to get us where we needed to be; for that extra push and encouragement we needed to do our best; for the often unsolicited advice that was given to us anyway. And even though we hate to admit it, you were right most of the time.

 

“But more so than anything else, I’d like to thank you for the love, patience, and dedication that you have shown in raising us and molding us into the people we have become. Thank you for everything you have done for us; we are more grateful than words can express.

“Seniors, also thank yourselves for making it to this point. It is your hard work and diligence that has allowed you to achieve success. And now that we’ve completed our “mission,” we are fully prepared to embark on the journey that will begin the rest of our lives,” she said.

Owen also issued a challenge to her class saying, “Do not sit back and watch life pass you by; take every opportunity you are given and make something of it. 

“We must take control of our lives, grab hold of the pen that writes our life story, and make it a good one. 

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. 

She quoted Oprah Winfrey who said, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.”

Owen talked of Psychologist Ruth Westheimers’ favorite animal  - the turtle – “because in order for it to move forward, it had to stick its neck out,” she said. 

“We are going to have to stick our neck out at some point in our lives.  There will be challenges that we will all face and instead of hiding in a shell, we have to go out and meet them head-on.  Do not be wary of risks and failure because we can learn from failure; it makes us grow as individuals and strive to do better the next time around,” she concluded.