Ready to soar: 195 Eagles begin new chapter
By William F. West
Sunday, June 10, 2018
Northeastern High School’s 195 graduates were urged Saturday to remember that learning is continuous, that it includes helping others to learn, and that it’s better accomplished together since no one truly makes it on their own.
Those were some of the ideas expressed by NHS Class of 2018 valedictorian John Parker Betts and class salutatorian Savannah Hess during their remarks to fellow graduates during the school’s annual commencement ceremony on the NHS athletic field.
Betts, who is heading to Duke University this fall, said he learned a lot about life and learning during his four years at NHS and it could be summed up in two statements.
"Learning is a continuous process," he said. "And you're only as wise as the company you keep."
Betts related how while growing up, he’d get frustrated while raking leaves because no matter how many he raked up, there were always more by the time he finished. He said he came to realize that new knowledge is a lot like those falling leaves, just waiting to be discovered.
To continue the metaphor, he said he also realized that one’s success at both life and learning has a lot to do with whom one chooses to rake leaves. To that point, he urged fellow graduates to surround themselves with people who challenge them intellectually. He also encouraged them to do what they can to fuel someone else’s quest for knowledge.
Hess, who has cerebral palsy, reflected in her speech on the time she and fellow graduates have spent at Northeastern.
"It has not been all sunshine and rainbows, but it has been a time to remember," she said.
Hess said when she first learned she was this year’s class salutatorian, she struggled to find the proper words to describe NHS Class of 2018. She said she finally hit on the word that describes the class perfectly: "Strong."
"As a class, we watched each other grow and no matter how long we have known each other, we have found ways to make each other better," she said. "We have helped each other through the good times and the bad both on campus and off. No matter our past, race, gender or abilities, we have found a way to come together.”
Hess, who is headed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall, noted that graduates should be rightly proud of what they’ve accomplished as they leave NHS. But they also should remember the family members, friends, teachers and administrators who helped them along the way, she said.
“As our adventures begin, let us remember to allow others to help us along the way, for no one can make it alone," Hess said.
She also reminded them to remember the friendships and connections they’ve made at NHS, noting, "We are Eagles and Eagles always find their way back to each other."
In his remarks to graduates, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools Superintendent Larry Cartner noted that 125 of them have already received notice they’ve been accepted at a college or university. He noted that 13 others have been accepted into the ranks of the armed forces, and that many others had plans to go directly into the workforce after graduation.
Cartner shared four points he said he shares with all graduating classes. He advised graduates to take their faith with them as the move into the world; to always be grateful and find at least one thing each day to be thankful for; to persevere and find a way to make their dreams come true; and in doing all that, to always remember three little words: “and then some.”
"Do what is expected and then some,” he said. “Give all you have and then some. Make a difference and then some.”
After receiving their diplomas, several newly minted graduates discussed their excitement completing high school and plans for the future.
Avery Krivanec, 18, said she was beyond elated to earn her diploma, noting she “worked hard for this."
Krivanec said she plans to attend Elizabeth City State University because she wants to stay close to home until she decides on a major. Right now, she’s considering studying nutrition.
Brittany Moore, 17, said while she felt great earning her diploma, the fact she’s now a high school graduate hadn't fully sunk in yet.
"I don't feel emotional or anything," Moore said, adding that what she really felt seemed more like relief.
Moore said she’s heading to East Carolina University to study nursing.
Hasheem Harper, 18, said he was focused on the significance of Saturday’s commencement. He said he knew Saturday marked the last time he’d likely see a number of his friends. He also knew, he said, that the end of high school was significant "because these are the best years of your life, basically."
Harper, who played baseball and football at NHS, said he’s been accepted at both Chowan College and ECSU and is eyeing a couple of other colleges.
He said he likes Chowan's baseball program, but ECSU has his interest for now. If he ends up at ECSU, he’d like to start a petition drive to revive ECSU's baseball program, he said. The university suspended baseball in the spring of 2014 because of a lack of funding.
Wherever he goes to college, Harper said he wants to major in sports management.