‘We kept moving forward’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2005

Jean-Louis Bil\u00E9 described high school evolution. Brittany Waller talked about setting an example. Brian Tucker didn’t say much at all.

But one way or another on Saturday, all three of Suffolk’s public high school valedictorians said goodbye. They said thank you. They said good luck for the future. Nearly 700 high school seniors finished out their high school educations throughout the day.

Nansemond River High School was the first school to hold its farewell, as Tucker hit his gymnasium stage just after 9 a.m.

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&uot;Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said ‘a speechwriter should be sincere, be brief and be seated,’&uot; said Tucker, who will head to Virginia Tech this fall. &uot;After 13 years of school, we have finally reached the point where we are ready to step into the world. We want to remember our past even as we look toward the future. Our memories of the people and experiences at Nansemond River should not be left behind.&uot;

The 298 graduating Nansemond River Warriors have a special reason to be remembered; they racked up more than

$2.4 million in scholarship funds, a Suffolk public school record and over

$1 million more than last year.

Bil\u00E9, also a future Virginia Tech Hokie, remembered the journey that he and the rest of Lakeland High School’s 250 graduates took, in every sense of the word.

&uot;Four years ago, we walked through these doors as dumb, impressionable youth who thought they knew everything,&uot; he said just before noon. &uot;However, we soon discovered that we knew nothing. We had set many goals for ourselves, but our ultimate goal was to graduate from high school. Through the process of becoming graduates, we learned many lessons that made us wiser and more aware of our weaknesses and strengths. Now four years later, we find ourselves, as intelligent students, about to exit through the same doors that we entered four years ago.&uot;

The 141 King’s Fork grads didn’t have as long; their school only opened in September.

&uot;We as the senior class have exemplified what it means to be the best one can be,&uot; Waller said in the day’s final ceremony. &uot;Whether in academics or extracurricular activities, we gave it our best. It was our strength of character that sustained us and moved us forward. We kept moving forward. We continued to strive for excellence. We continued to excel, no matter what came our way.&uot;

The future Savannah College of Art and Design student ended her speech and the school year by quoting Robert Frost’s &uot;The Road Not Taken.&uot;

&uot;In this poem, the speaker reminisces on the past and realizes that he had indeed made a good decision in taking the road less traveled. Keep in mind that he did not take the way that was easiest or the way that the majority of his friends decided to take. Instead, he took the way that steered him in the direction of success and happiness.&uot;

All three ceremonies had one common link-guest speaker Del. S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk).

&uot;Your 12 years of required formal education have come to this crowning moment,&uot; Jones said to the Nansemond River students.

&uot;It is up to you to take the knowledge you have gained and put it into action, be it in college, the armed forced or a vocation.

&uot;What you choose to do and more importantly how you approach your future will determine your success. There are many great opportunities as well as many unforeseen challenges that await you.&uot;