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Speaker urges grads to ‘go out into real world, grow up’

Valedictorian Angelica Majors encouraged the Halifax County High School Class of 2012 to take risks in order to be successful as she delivered her commencement address during graduation exercises Saturday morning in the Halifax County High School gymnasium.

The Graduating Class included 374 seniors who received their diplomas and 26 who received their GED certificates. Seventy-four seniors received associates degrees from Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC).

 Majors, along with Jessica Velazquez and Summer Joy Hicks gave the
commencement addresses and Principal Albert T. Randolph recognized the “Top 10” seniors.

Majors, Rebekah E. Marshall, Velazquez, Samantha L. Starke, Hicks, Duane L. Irby Jr., Matthew G. Ballou, Jordan L. Clifford, Jared T. Cabaniss and Amber M. Oakes all received a $1,000 scholarship and a certificate recognizing them as Moorefield Scholars.

SVCC President Dr. John J. Cavan presented 74 associates of arts and science degrees to 2012 graduates Saturday morning.

Cavan recognized the students by telling parents to be thankful the students worked hard and went the extra mile to complete their first two years of college saving them money in college tuition.

 He also reminded the graduation attendees that Halifax County High School was the number one school in the country receiving associate degrees as he had announced the previous year.

 Majors opened her commencement address with a poem entitled “To Risk” by William Arthur Ward.

  After reciting the poem she went on to tell her fellow classmates that time moves so incredibly fast, and it was the last they would all be together.

“Today marks the end of our high school career and the beginning of a new journey,” said Majors.  Whatever comes next in all of our lives will no doubt be new to us. We will be forced to step out of our comfort zones, go out into the real world and grow up,” she added.

 Majors went on to say not everyone may be leaving Halifax but they will be experiencing changes, and that she was terrified of what was to come.

“ Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any easier. What happens if life is hard? What happens if I fail? Life will be hard and I will fail sometime in my life. But if I never try, I will never succeed. So, you have to push past all the fear that you have of change, failure and life,” Majors said.

Majors told the class they have to forget about what ifs and have the courage to grow up and become who they were meant to be and know that everything will work out.

“ Live life as it is supposed to be lived without regrets and without anything holding you back. Take every opportunity that you can,” Majors said. “Don’t spend your life wishing for a second chance because you may not get one. Don’t be afraid to risk something because of what you might lose, because you’ll never gain anything.”

Majors told her classmates to remember when life gets hard everything happens for a reason.

Majors said, “You may not always be able to see the reason at first, but one day you will. Don’t listen to those who say you can’t. Don’t listen to those who say you aren’t good enough because you can, you will, and you are.”  

 Majors then recited another poem entitled “Listen to the Mustn’ts” by Shel Silverstein.

  Major continued on to say that she was proud of all her classmates whether they were close friends or not.

  She closed her speech by saying, “ We all have our problems and our struggles, and yet we have pushed past all of them succesfully. “We have all worked so hard and it has paid off. I truly wish all of you success and happiness in your future where life may take you.”

Velazquez, who was No. 3 in the class, encouraged fellow classmates to live life to the fullest and reach for their goals in her commencement address Saturday morning.

 She opened her speech by thanking all the parents for their love and support and Mr. Randolph for his encouragement throughout the year.

 Velazquez then told the class that graduation was a time of celebration, excitement and enthusiasm, and that she could feel the excitement in the gymnasium.

“As I look out into the audience I see there are lots of smiles, lots of hugs, and lots of cameras clicking away to capture this memorable day,” said Velazquez.  Right about now your head is so full of bright ideas of what you want to do and where you want to go that you think it’s about to explode. Your heart is pounding so hard and so loud you can hardly breathe,” Velazquez said.

   She proclaimed the class of 2012 had big dreams and hopes.

“In order to achieve those hopes and dreams you must sometimes be adventurous, sometimes bold, sometimes be courageous, but always be you,” Velazquez said.

“You only live once. Mark Twain said, ‘Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did,’ so step out of your comfort zone and live life to the fullest, laugh often (especially at yourself) and love everybody, even the ones that sometimes are unlovable.”

 Velazquez reminded students that life can be taken away very shortly as they have seen with the loss of some of their closest friends.

 She said, “ I know things are constantly changing around us, but one thing will never change the need for good education. We certainly have had some wonderful teachers to try and motivate us to do our best. We’ve had some teachers that made us laugh and some who made us cry. I’m sure some of them have laughed and cried when their class was over and some probably prayed we would drop that class completely.”

  Velazquez told her classmates that the doors to the classrooms would soon closed for the final time for them as seniors but the door to their future was wide open.

“The opportunities are endless because we are our country’s future leaders, scientists, doctors and lawyers,” said Velazquez. “Everywhere we go we will be a representative of this school. In the years to come, I expect to hear great things happening to all of you because we are a class of champions.”

Velazquez urged her classmates to set their goals high and shoot for the moon. She said even if they miss they’d still land among the stars.

“Life is a lot like a coin, you can spend it anyway you wish, but you can spend it only once. So be true to yourself, be thankful of who you are, where you been and especially where you’re going because the past is not as nearly as important as your future,” Velazquez said.

 She reminisced about the friendships she made with classmates and softball teammates and expressed to the softball team they would always be state champions in her heart.

“Thirteen years ago, when we stepped into the kindergarten class the mission began to one day graduate,” Velazquez said.” Today at 9 a.m. the countdown officially started and in about an hour the mission will be complete. We will graduate on time. The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match, and each one of you is a fuse. When you receive your diploma today think of it as your ticket to change the world.”

 She wished her fellow classmates a congratulations and good luck before concluding her speech by saying, “ May God bless the best senior class to ever walk the halls of HCHS, I love you guys.” 

 Hicks, who ranked No.5 in the class, urged her classmates to take their experiences and all they’ve learned, and use it in their future.

 She said, “Today is the day. Everything that we’ve accomplished, everything that we have been through has led us to this day. It seems like it was just yesterday that we started our freshman year of high school, but that was four years ago. Eighteen years of life, 12 years of school, and one day to graduate; we are on the brink of our future.”

Hicks encouraged her classmates to remember and cherish all the good memories they shared together.

“Take everything that you have learned and put it to good use, leave those things that aren’t helpful. Embrace the friends you’ve gained, and thank your enemy for challenging you,” Hicks said.

 Hicks asked her fellow classmates to bring forward the lessons that will be moving parts in their life and to make an impact on the world.

“Let us do something great, graduation is a time to truly reflect on who you are, what you’ve become, and realize the things you’ve accomplished,” she noted.  “Its time for us to find who we are in this world and be comfortable with it.”

Hicks thanked parents, teachers, staff and Principal Randolph for helping to make the moment possible.

 “I see a long road ahead.  Our foundation has been set. Fellow classmates, don’t be afraid to add on to your knowledge and skills past high school. Look forward to challenges and fight through every trouble that may thwart your path,” Hicks said.

 She concluded by saying, “Well done graduating class of 2012 and good luck to each and every one of you. Thank you.”