Okolona graduates urged to excel

 Okolona High School 2014 Valedictorian, Ashley Gates, speakes to her classmates as the sun sets on graduation ceremonies in Okolona Friday, May 17. Commencement saw 40 students graduate from Okolona this year. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)


Okolona High School 2014 Valedictorian, Ashley Gates, speakes to her classmates as the sun sets on graduation ceremonies in Okolona Friday, May 17. Commencement saw 40 students graduate from Okolona this year. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

OKOLONA – They strolled across the stage, shook their superintendent’s hand and took their diplomas as graduates of Okolona High School.

The Okolona High School Class of 2014 saw 40 students participate in commencement exercises on Faulkner-Bowens Football Field in Okolona Friday night, with parents, family and friends cheering each graduate on as they were handed their diploma.

In her speech to the class Valedictorian Ashley Gates said what was on the minds of all present.

“We made it!” said Gates, to a rousing round of applause. “There is no mountain we can’t climb and no valley we can’t cross. Now, as graduates of the 2014 Class of Okolona High School, we must grow up and either go to college or go into the real world and find a job.”

Gates pointed out high school was marked with mistakes, but each graduate continued toward the goal of earning their high school diploma.

“Success is failure turned inside out,” said Gates. “No matter what route we take or what stands in our way, success lies before us. We need to strive for it as young adults.”

Salutatorian Justin Ward pointed out there will be other “big steps” in the life of each graduate.

“The next big step is either going to be college or the real world of work,” said Ward. “High school prepared us for this step.

“I want to thank our parents, our teachers and this community for guiding us so far,” said Ward. “We have been fortunate and blessed to have you with us. It is my desire to make you proud of us the rest of the way.”

The names of each graduate was read by Okolona High School Principal Christopher Hill and students were awarded their diploma by Okolona Superintendent Dexter Green.

The invocation to start Friday’s ceremonies was prayed by Jaylan Walker as the sun slowly set over Okolona. The National Anthem was sung by LaQuita Boyd and the welcome given by Destiny Ford.

The Class Poem was read by Amber Buchanan, Alexis Montgomery and Pedro Clay. A special class song was presented by Matthew Loudermill, LaQuinta Boyd, Tyra Parks and Anfernee Smith. A tribute to parents, with all mothers given an iris – the class flower – was read by Daphne Barr, Niakia Gillispie and Tiara McMillian.

The benediction was given by Jaqaveious Collins.

National Honor Society graduates were:

Amber Buchanan, Sundaja Buchanan, JaQaveious Collins, Destiny Ford, Ashley Gates, Niakia Gillispie, Ebonie Hampton, Tiara McMillian, Alexis Montgomery, Amber Stewart, Jaylan Walker and Justin Ward.

Amber Buchanan, Ebonie Hampton, Ashley Gates, Destiny Ford and Charity Nabors were National Technical Honor Society graduates.

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