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Suffolk seniors graduate

The theme for Saturday was simple – follow your dreams and be the best person you can be.

Suffolk Public Schools held commencement ceremonies at the Ted Constant Convention Center in Norfolk for all three high schools — Lakeland, King’s Fork and Nansemond River — graduating about 950 students.

All three schools boasted more than $10 million in scholarship offers to their students.

The valedictorians and salutatorians, gave passionate and entertaining speeches imparting advice and words of wisdom to their classmates before they take the next step to college, the military or trade schools.

“I have decided that I am not going to stand before you as an 18-year-old and profess wisdom and advice beyond my years,” said Lakeland valedictorian Maya Feldt. “I have learned that life is composed of obstacles, failures and difficulties, all of which shape us into the person we are becoming.”

All three valedictorians spoke eloquently to their classmates, thanked their teachers and reminded their parents how much they did for them.

Their speeches featured lyrics from popular hip-hop songs and Bible verses, and the messages were always clear — never give up, be humble and be grateful.

“We are constantly surrounded by people years or even decades older than us, ready to impart the knowledge and wisdom they have gained in that time, but sometimes we are too prideful to want to listen and learn,” said King’s Fork valedictorian Yvette Gamor.

The commencements were long, but their classmates hung on every word, making sure to take in the advice from their peers with open arms.

“The voyage to your dreams is not always going to be smooth sailing. There will be tossing waves and thunderstorms that try to stop your ship from reaching its destination,” said Nansemond River valedictorian Brandon Eley. “But you cannot let this threat stop you from setting out to sail towards your dream.”

Before the end of every single speech, from students and administration, they reminded the parents that they have done so much over the last 13 years to get their kids from kindergarten to high school graduation.

Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney gave simple advice to all of the students — be a bucket filler.

“Buckets are filled by saying and doing kind and nice things to others, and the more we fill others’ buckets, the more we fill our own,” Whitney said. “Those who have and maintain a full bucket are those who end up having a positive outlook on life.”

The day was filled with happy hearts and glowing smiles from every student as their principals told them to move their tassels and proclaimed them graduates.

While the day was for celebration, Nansemond River’s started on a solemn note.

The very first chair sat empty but for a cap and gown. The chair was dedicated to Drew Miller, a Nansemond River senior who died in a car accident on Oct. 9, 2017.

Principal Dan O’Leary opened the commencement with a kind word and delivered a diploma to the empty seat.

 

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