Forge new paths, cherish old ones New Kent grads instructed
As New Kent High School’s Class of 2017 sat together inside of VCU’s Siegel Center Friday night, the 223 graduates received messages that focused on forging new paths in life and remember the ones they had already taken.
Family and friends joined in the celebration as high school principal Christopher Valdrighi approached the podium to speak to the outgoing senior class.
“Today we celebrate your hard work and perseverance,” he said. “You have achieved this goal to earn your diploma.
“To the parents, family, and friends in attendance, you have been the support team of this senior group,” Valdrighi continued. “From sporting events to parent-teacher conferences to school functions, you have been there and we thank you.”
Class president Bella Pollard also thank family and friends, but made sure she emphasized the experiences of attending New Kent High School.
“No other school I have been to has had such a dedicated faculty and staff, a strong fellowship and relationship between students, and an intense school spirit,” she said. “Today, we say goodbye to New Kent County schools. Most significantly, we say goodbye to each other and for a lot of us this comes after being together for thirteen years.
“As we leave each other to take advantage of opportunities unique to each individual, we must not forget where we came from,” Pollard added. “New Kent County has fully prepared us to take on new endeavors. We have the skills, support, and knowledge to do whatever we set our hearts to do and we are not fearful because we are New Kent Strong.”
Class salutatorian Madelyn Shiflett addressed fellow classmates, comparing their journeys in life to cross-country meets, something she participated in while attending New Kent.
“Cross-country is not an easy sport and it’s a lot like life,” she began. “When you warm up, you run, then you have to run some more, and during the cool down period, you run some more.
“What I learned is that life is like a cross-country race; you have the start, a difficult and rewarding middle, and then you get to the finish line,” the salutatorian continued. “Life has many races and we just finished our first one.
“As we start this new journey, let me give you some race-day advice,” Shiflett added as she began to wrap up her speech. “Keep your eyes forward and not down so that you do not miss anything. Don’t be afraid to take quick glances back to see where you came from. Remember the advice that you learned as a part of this team [class of 2017].
Class valedictorian Vivian Sanchez’s speech classified her as an ‘outsider looking in’, she said that her fellow peers touched her heart in their own unique way.
“Upon entering the building, clusters of students were oft seen,” she said. “These clusters were all different, yet, they share a common trait; they were all filled with close, happy students.
“There is a sense of vitality upon walking into the building as students often exuberant,” she continued. “Some may have been too exuberant; however, they are all good-natured and humble people.
“Never get complacent,” Sanchez added, sharing advice bestowed on her by her twin sister. “There is always a part of life, whether it be professional or personal, that can be improved by your efforts. Do not get comfortable with a position in your life.”
New Kent superintendent of schools Dave Myers imitated his robocall messages, garnering a laugh from attendees. But he knew to keep his message short as graduates prepared to exit the building.