HOULKA – “As a whole, we are supposed to stand together,” said Houlka High School Salutatorian about the lessons her class has learned through the past 12 years. “We will take the lessons high school has taught us and touch other people’s lives.”
36 graduates walked for diplomas May 24 in the Houlka Gymnasium and Valedictorian Deanna Washington urged them to take a stand as adults and create their places in society.
“My wish is that this be the class that makes things happen,” Washington said. “We have faced many challenges and by working together have overcome these challenges. If we change only one person’s life, then haven’t we done our part? We are young, but we have the ability to do great things.”
The class has seen many changes this year, losing a much-loved teacher and coach to cancer and watching classmates recover from a traumatic automobile accident. One of the accident victims, Joby Byars, was present at graduation to receive his diploma and awards. Byars and Kennedy Warren were the first recipients of the Jimbo Byars memorial scholarship, named in honor of Joby’s deceased father. The Sydney Earp memorial scholarship was presented to Sabrina Jonea and the McKenzie Young memorial scholarship was given to Kennedy Warren.
The 2012-13 Houlka Hall of Fame was announced during the ceremony with Katie Murphree, Taylor Kelly, Joby Byars and Jesse Kelly joining the prestigous list of top students.
In a long-held tradition, graduates presented loved ones and family members with roses prior to having their diplomas conferred by Principal Michael Gillespie and Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums. The new graduates will now walk into their adult lives and Murphree encouraged them to do so with confidence.
“It is now our time to chose the path we want to take,” Murphree said.