PILOT MOUNTAIN — The East Surry High School football stadium was filled with excited family and friends as the faculty worked hard to prepare the field for the students and the graduation ceremony, however the weather had another agenda.
With the loud booms of thunder and lightening strikes in the area the graduation was momentarily delayed and moved inside the gymnasium.
As the crowd gathered inside and everyone settled in the ceremony began. The JROTC began the ceremony by placing the American and North Carolina flags upon the stage, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge was lead by senior class president Andrew Zachman.
He spoke to his fellow classmates encouraging them to expand their education and to move on past the great town of Pilot Mountain, as he knew the class of 2015 was full of great potential.
The students faces were gleaming and filled with excitement, and maybe a little fear, as the presentation of diplomas began.
As each student walked across the stage, the cheers from the bleachers filling the gymnasium. However, one particular student received the loudest shout out from his family, Nathan Puckett. As he accepted his diploma from Principal Lorrie Sawyers, Nathan’s face turned red as he gave a sly smile.
East Surry High School had a class full students graduating tonight, with more than $2.2 million in scholarships awarded to the students.
Nicolas Yanes, student body president, left the students and the crowd filled with pride as he made his farewell speech. “Many will say that you won’t amount to much, sitting before everyone today is 158 reasons why those people are wrong.”
Principal Sawyers had a special connection to this graduating class of 2015. Joshua Sawyers, her son, was among those graduating. After receiving his diploma he tightly hugged his mom. Not only was she proud of him but she stated she watched many of the class members grow up and said “I am so incredibly proud of the people you are and the people you are going to become and the things you are going to do.”
Principle Lorrie Sawyers addressed this school year as the best of times and the worst of times. The best being that the school had participated in multiple state championships, the Quiz Bowl team made history by participating for the first time in state championships. Other highlights included the volleyball team, the men’s soccer team, the boys’ golf team and female golfer Madison Moore also participated in the state championships.
The worst however was the loss of two junior students, Gage Edwards and Jacob Pettitt, during the past year and a half. Principal Sawyers said “Although they were not a part of the senior class, they are a part of who these people have become.”
Before the students were instructed to move their tassels, the principal left the students with a challenge to do three simple things. “Make friends wherever you go and hold them close,” and “Do your best always, you only get one chance to make a first impression and that may be the only chance that you have,” and finally “Show up and participate.”
Although the start to the evening began with an unexpected rain storm, the staff, students, family and friends all pulled together to make this evening unforgettable for everyone.
Sawyers said “You will always have a home and you will always be loved,” at East Surry High School.
Eva Queen can be reached at (336) 415-4739