I can’t believe I actually made it up here. First, I would like to say I am so thankful for my parents, friends, family, teammates, and classmates, for enduring the past long four years together with me, which now seem so short.
I would also like to thank my teachers, my coaches, the faculty, and the administration for all the work they have done. I would not be who I am, or where I am today, without the love and support I have received from everyone. But most importantly, I would like to thank God, for without Him I wouldn’t even be standing up here.
But today is not about me, but about US, the class of 2018. No matter how much our parents have been dreading (or praying for) this day, how many times we rolled in late (or didn’t come at all), how many grades we weren’t satisfied with, how much Tabor City McDonald’s we’ve eaten, how many polos and khakis we now own, or how many times Mr. Thompson has given us “the look,” we made it.
If y’all are anything like me, you are a completely different person today than you were when you first walked into this building—and I mean that in a good way. We have grown through countless experiences, we’ve learned from our mistakes, we’ve gained confidence in ourselves, and we’ve even figured out how to survive Mrs. Smith’s class–– and I guess now we can be considered “adults.”
Many of us walked through these doors on the nerve-racking morning of August 25, 2014, as strangers. But we walk out today as forever classmates, teammates, best friends, and as family. As I stand up here today, I can’t help but to feel humbled and thankful to have been a part of our little family at South Columbus. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend this chapter of my life with any other class, at any other school.
High school was filled with ups and downs, wins and losses, failure and success. But regardless of how many times we were knocked down, stallions know how to stand back up.
I mean, we are all graduating right now. A perfect example of that is our own classmate, Victoria Harrelson, who is a shining example of perseverance. I am so happy that we are ALL able to graduate today, regardless of what it took to get here. Whether your place was in the classroom, on the field or court, or on the stage, we learned how to persevere and how to succeed. You being here today proves that.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Although we may not have our future quite figured out, I have faith that each one of us will find our place in the world, and “be a good one.”
As sad as I am to say goodbye to all of my best friends, I can’t wait to see the great things everyone does with their lives, whether we’re tens or hundreds of miles apart. No matter where we go once we walk out of these doors today, once a stallion, always a stallion.
Yes, the coming years won’t be easy, but always remember God has a plan for you, and to quote the great Michael Jordan, “The ceiling is the roof.” Class of 2018, we made it. Thank you.
Koonce will attend UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall. She is the daughter of Sterling and Caroline Koonce.