Cavaliers ready to write a new future

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Through their years at Lakeland, the 350 members of the Cavalier class of 2003-04 completed a marathon of accomplishments that would stretch for longer than the most epic of novels. Now, valedictorian Avery Daugherty told his fellow classmates Monday evening it’s time for them to embark on a new work.

&uot;Our slate is clean,&uot; said Daugherty, a future James Madison University student. &uot;We have reached that plateau of success that is the greatest achievement of our young lives. With this clean slate, we can now write the future. It is our opportunity to write our own individual futures. It is also our opportunity to write the futures of our own world. There is a foundation of strong genes inherited from our families; there is the foundation of nurture from our homes, our communities, and our city. There are strengths within us formed by our strengths within each other. Each one of us carries knowledge and wisdom which we have learned from our mentors, parents and teachers.&uot;

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Not to mention their friends and own personal memories, added salutatorian Sean Harris. &uot;It is not only the people but also the events that have transpired over the years,&uot; he said, &uot;especially our senior year that will last in our minds for an eternity. We won’t forget Homecoming Week, with students dressed like kindergartners one day and guys slapping on dresses the next. The remembrance of Prom Night will remain near in our memories. The beautiful dresses, the snazzy tuxedos and everyone dancing and enjoying themselves.

&uot;Yet ladies and gentlemen,&uot; he said, &uot;no event will be held dearer in our hearts than tonight, our graduation, our moment of glory and success, and our last time being together as a class.&uot;

This year’s class was the first to be required to pass the SOL tests in order to graduate, noted school superintendent Dr. Milton Liverman. &uot;You have proven that you can meet any expectations, and that you have what it takes to succeed. You make me feel encouraged and confident about your future. You have proven that you are people of integrity, and that you understand that hard work is the key to success. Use your unique talents to good use, and reach for the impossible. Take good care of yourselves, because you deserve the best and are willing to work for it.&uot;

Guest speaker Belle Wheelen, Virginia’s secretary of education, called the high school commencement ceremony one of the most exciting events in a person’s life. &uot;You now have the skills to be able to give back to your community,&uot; she said. &uot;You must go back and help people understand how important education truly is. When something needs to be done, someone needs to stand up and say, ‘I’m going to do it.’

&uot;Remember that the word ‘American’ ends with the letters, ‘I can,’&uot; she said. &uot;There will be days when you wake up and think, ‘I cannot get through another day.’ But you can always move forward, because this nation is counting on you.&uot;

While the routes formed by hard work in English, history, math, foreign languages, and other subjects had allowed the Cavaliers to arrive their finest moment, the journey from then on carried far more directions, Daugherty said. &uot;The road behind us is the road of our youth, our childhood, our high school careers. We have arrived at an incredible crossroad, and all other roads are open to us. The foundation is now in place; we have only to choose a path and follow it.&uot;

Harris intends to follow his own to a degree from Old Dominion University and then to a career in law.

&uot;As we move on with our lives,&uot; he said, &uot;I encourage each of you to find your niche in this world, something that you can work at and take pride in. I encourage all of you to find success in all of you endeavors and never settle for good, because your good can always be better and your better can always be your best. We have been told that we are tomorrow’s future, yet tomorrow is today and the future is now.

&uot;I believe that without a doubt that the class of 2004 will fulfill this sentiment, will take hold the reigns of today and fill it with success.&uot;