28 graduate summer school
Published 10:43 pm Thursday, July 31, 2014
An emotional and joyful ceremony saw 28 students graduate high school Thursday after attending summer school.
“It feels good, because not very many of my family made it,” said Roy Benton, having proudly watched grandson Brandon Huffman cross the stage to receive his diploma.
“It feels really good. I’m proud of him. I never made it myself.”
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The school district’s high school summer school ran at Lakeland High School — which hosted the graduation ceremony — on four half-days per week during July.
It was a chance for students who were tracking behind their peers academically to prove — to themselves and others — they have what it takes to succeed.
“You obviously believe in perseverance, otherwise you wouldn’t be here,” district Superintendent Deran Whitney told the graduates.
“When I look out at you, that is the one word that comes to mind: perseverance … the effort required to do something and keep doing it until the end, even if it appears hard.”
Kevin Jones, who attended Lakeland High School, said the program was “lots of hard work.”
“It feels good” to see it pay off with a diploma, though, he said. “I feel like we made it.”
Crossing the stage to be handed a diploma made all the striving “worthwhile,” said Ryan Hathaway, of Nansemond River High School. It felt “amazing,” he added.
Michael Blount, principal of the summer school, reminded graduates that life’s challenges are not over just because they have a high school diploma in their hands. “Now this — this is just the beginning,” he said.
“Do me a favor. Look your classmates square in the eye, and I want you to tell them: Don’t stop now.”
Maintain the momentum and move forward with life, Blount told them.
“Move forward into truth, wisdom, knowledge, understanding. The whole world is waiting for your unique gift, for your knowledge. Now isn’t the time to disappoint them.”
Outside the auditorium, Harvey Walton fist-bumped with daughter Ka-ryn Walton, a Lakeland High School summer school graduate.
He expressed relief that all his children are now officially done with high school.
“I’m just delighted, man, I tell you,” Harvey Walton said. “I just can’t even describe it right now. To be choked up — I guess — is to be natural.”