Lakeland grads hear about success

Published 6:50 pm Saturday, June 13, 2009

A graduation ceremony might seem an odd time to talk about failure, but Lakeland High School seniors heard a message on Saturday about putting the inevitable failures in life to their advantage.

“With success comes failure,” Valedictorian Emma Gardner told her classmates during the Class of 2009’s graduation ceremony in the Cavaliers’ gymnasium Saturday morning.

Graduates should continue to pursue their goals, even when things don’t go as planned, she said, adding that they should “learn to overcome failure to continue pursing (their) dreams” and that they should “learn to always stay focused on (their) goals.”

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Mostly, she reminded them, “Wherever life takes you … remember that we will always be the Lakeland Cavaliers.”

Lakeland kicked off graduation day for Suffolk Public schools with a 9 a.m. ceremony. Family and friends packed the gym, while those without tickets to the main event watched via closed circuit television in an auditorium or — for the first time in Suffolk — live via streaming video on the Internet.

Salutatorian Cheryl Williams told the audience that the occasion marked a new day of independence for the graduates.

“After today, ‘independence’ brings a whole new meaning,” she said.

She credited her faith in Jesus Christ for her success in school and encouraged her classmates to embrace the changes they will face, now that high school is over.

Suffolk School Superintendent Milton Liverman quoted President Barack Obama, who earlier this spring had encouraged graduates at Arizona State University to “find someone to be successful for. Rise to their hopes and their needs.”

Quoting Obama, Liverman encouraged graduates to “build a body of work” that includes being their for the fellow man.

“That is what building a body of work is all about,” he said. “It’s about the daily labor, the many individual acts, the choices large and small that add up to a lasting legacy.”