DOBSON — Students at the Surry County Schools’ non-traditional high school took their final “journey” together on Friday.
On Friday evening, the Surry Early College held its graduation ceremony in the Surry Community College gymnasium.
“As we go on this final journey together across this stage, I want to say thanks for the memories,” said Petra Goettel after recalling the many trips to places such as Pennsylvania and Georgia the graduating class of 66 took together.
The Early College is a non-traditional form of high school education. The school is located on the campus of the community college, and most early college students earn associate’s degrees or other certifications while earning their high school diploma.
John Clement, the president of the Class of 2017, said he thrived in the non-traditional setting. People often ask him if he is sad to have missed out on the traditional high school experience. He’s not.
“This school turned a socially awkward kid into a president and a (homecoming or prom) king,” said John.
He noted the school has taught the graduating class “hope for the future, love for one another and acceptance.”
“I’m glad we all chose to go to this not-so-traditional school,” John said. “Keep on keepin’ on … Stay rad.”
Prior to John’s speech, Maggie McKee, the school’s teacher of the year, addressed the graduating class.
McKee told the class that she is only eight years removed from high school. Thus, she didn’t know if she was up to the task of providing advice to the young adults who were about to see the end of their high school years. She did a search of the web to see what advice some very accomplished folks would offer.
She said Bill Gates’ lesson was, “Choose your friends wisely.” The billionaire believes people should surround themselves with people who will challenge them. His wife, Melinda Gates, believes one should “get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Another self-made millionaire had noted that a diploma is no reason to stop learning, and the chief operating officer for Facebook says graduates should build resilience. Deep inside, all are up to the task of taking on the tragedies and disappointments they will inevitably face in life.
Though she drew from the knowledge of those four successful people, McKee told students she has learned a little bit since she received her high school diploma.
She read the Ralph Waldo Emerson poem “Success” to illustrate her thoughts on life.
“It encourages us all to slow down and appreciate the little things,” McKee told the graduates. “It also encourages us to step out of ourselves.”
Before handing out diplomas, Early College principal Kevin Via shared some statistics with the graduates and the crowd present to support them. Twenty-nine students will attend a four-year university, and 11 will move on to a community college.
Via said 25 graduates intend to enter the workforce, and one is moving on to a career in the military.
Of the 66 graduates, more than half earned associate’s degrees, and many more earned other certificates from the community college throughout their academic careers at the high school. Combined, the Early College Class of 2017 has been offered more than $370,000 in scholarship monies.
“They have 12-plus years of hard work successfully behind them,” said Via.