New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | August 24, 2019

Messages on self-motivation, opening doors highlight 2019 Charles City High School graduation ceremonies

By Andre Jones | June 8, 2019 1:05 pm
Charles City High School’s Class of 2019 move their tassels from right to left as they are officially announced as graduates during Saturday morning’s ceremony.Andre' Jones photos

Charles City High School’s Class of 2019 move their tassels from right to left as they are officially announced as graduates during Saturday morning’s ceremony.

Andre' Jones photos

Messages about motivation and opening doors highlighted Charles City County High School commencement ceremonies Saturday morning.

Forty-one graduates of Charles City High School’s Class of 2019 received diplomas inside the gymnasium filled with family, friends, and supporters.

After a welcome by class president Derrick Richard Jr., class salutatorian Tanner Grubbs said high school provided lessons about the harsh truths that exist in the real world.

“High school taught us that not everybody is going to like you,” he said. “Even today, there are some people don’t like me.

“But my dad told me that you have to be true to yourself,” the salutatorian continued. “It’s not hard to remember the truth, and it’s a lot harder to remember a lie.”

Class valedictorian Jason Brown shared a sentimental story about his life, speaking on his key motivation.

“There were stories about a girl who graduated from this high school in 2001 who was smart, social, and well-respected,” he said. “Unfortunately, on June 3, 2002, this young lady loss her life in a drive-by shooting.

“But this isn’t a sad story. She left behind a bouncing baby boy,” Brown added. “That boy is now the valedictorian that stands before you on this stage today.

“She still motivates me,” he continued, adding that he only heard stories about his mother. “The question is what motivates you? Make that thing to drive you ambition. A goal without a motivation is just a wish.

“In conclusion, people have always talked down about our schools and compared us to our neighboring communities,” Brown said as he wrapped up their speech. “If that was true, would we have a track team that competed at states, graduates receiving internships to work at Rolls-Royce or go to college on full scholarships? Prove them wrong. We are all the blood that keeps this school alive.”

Principal Marcus Petty Jr. commented about watching the outgoing class grow throughout the year.

“This year, we all overcame obstacles,” he said. “I look at you all as my kids. We don’t need anymore negativity in our lives.

“You don’t have to say one word to anybody else,” Petty added. “People will always have something negative to say. Your job is to prove them wrong.”

The Rev. James H. Johnson served as the commencement speaker, pulling out a paper-mache starfish created by the Class of 2019 and telling a story related to it.

“The story goes that a man was watching a boy throw starfish back into the ocean. The man asked the boy why he was doing that, and the boy responded that if the starfish remained on the beach they would die.

“The man continued by telling the boy that the beach goes on for miles and that he can’t possibly throw them all back into the ocean,” Johnson continued. “The boy responded that he knew that, but he could save that one.”

Johnson continued, saying that the Class of 2019 now faces challenges provided them in their new journey.

“Life offers a variety of roads and a number of crossroads where you’re going to have to make that decision which path to take,” the speaker added. “A new door has opened for you. You enjoy more freedom in the future then you have in the past.

“God created you to have value today and even more tomorrow,” Johnson added. “Escape from the past and believe in your journey.”

Charles City Superintendent of Schools David Gaston concluded by saying that the small number of graduates doesn’t even classify the talent they possess.

“I don’t have any question that this class will be successful,” he said. “This class has an established identity. You all would never know the depth and heart of this class unless you were here to see what they have accomplished.”

Charles City High School’s graduating class raked in $1 million in scholarship money.

Jada Jones’ mortarboard blooms bright to stand out in a crowd during graduation.

Jada Jones’ mortarboard blooms bright to stand out in a crowd during graduation.

Jamon Brown (right) helps Steven Trull Jr. (left) with his cufflinks in preparation for the ceremony.

Jamon Brown (right) helps Steven Trull Jr. (left) with his cufflinks in preparation for the ceremony.

Kailin Holland (right) helps fellow classmate Sidney Adkins (left) adjust the tassel on her cap before graduation.

Kailin Holland (right) helps fellow classmate Sidney Adkins (left) adjust the tassel on her cap before graduation.

Laurin Bowman-Hamilton makes a slight touch-up with the mirror prior to lining up for the grand entry.

Laurin Bowman-Hamilton makes a slight touch-up with the mirror prior to lining up for the grand entry.

An emotional Chyna Price can’t stop shedding tears as her name is called to receive her diploma.

An emotional Chyna Price can’t stop shedding tears as her name is called to receive her diploma.

Vashelle Smith can’t help but to express her delight on her way to receiving her diploma.

Vashelle Smith can’t help but to express her delight on her way to receiving her diploma.

After graduation, family and friends gather around as Savanna Adkins (left) takes time for photos.

After graduation, family and friends gather around as Savanna Adkins (left) takes time for photos.

Keimon Cotman receives a snapshot photo with his family to commemorate his graduation day.

Keimon Cotman receives a snapshot photo with his family to commemorate his graduation day.