Vidalia, Huntington and Monterey honor graduates

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

VIDALIA, La. &045; Hundreds of friends and family members gathered at the Vidalia High School athletic field Friday to honor graduating seniors.

With a packed stadium, many crowded along the fence and spilled onto the sidelines as the 100 honorees marched onto the field in blue caps and gowns.

Major Bill &uot;Bud&uot; Wood was at the end of the line. &uot;I’m excited and ready to be finished with it all,&uot; he said. &uot;This summer I’ll find a job and then go to college.&uot;

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Will Windham, next to last, said he loved high school but looks forward to the rest of his life.

And he won’t forget one special teacher. &uot;I’ll remember Dorothy Ulmer, my math teacher. I’ll remember going to her every morning before school so she could help me with math,&uot; Windham said.

Valedictorian Christy Corley said in her address to the class and the visitors that the four years since she and her classmates started high school have slipped by quickly.

She urged the class to remember the importance of teachers, friends, parents and grandparents and, most of all, God.

&uot;Every student in this class has the potential to succeed,&uot; she said. &uot;Never set limits for yourselves.&uot;

Graduation finds the Class of 2005 probably as scared as they were four years ago, she said. &uot;We’re opening a new chapter in our lives.&uot;

Salutatorian Davilyn Clifton expressed some of the same sentiments in her farewell address.

&uot;Months have turned into years and finally we’re at the end of high school,&uot; Clifton said. &uot;It won’t be long before we’re sitting in the stands watching our own babies graduate.&uot;

Clifton said high school graduation &uot;completes the first chapter in our lives.&uot;

She encouraged classmates to strive for success and to do it with grace. &uot;You all look so beautiful tonight,&uot; she said, turning to look at her classmates. &uot;I’m so proud to say I graduated with the Class of 2005 at VHS.&uot;

Many awards and scholarships were presented during the ceremony, including recognition of Board of Regents Scholars, Concordia Parish Diploma and special honor graduates and Beta Club honorees.

Scholarships included those given in memory of former VHS supporters as well as those presented by civic clubs and other organizations. They ranged from $200 to $1,000.

Senior Windham, who recently joined the Louisiana National Guard, was presented a Guard scholarship that can be worth up to $53,000, the presenter said.

Monterey High School

MONTEREY, La. &045; You wouldn’t have known Monterey’s graduating class was smaller than usual from the gym full of family, friends and school workers that turned up Friday night for graduation.

Their were only a handful of seats left by the time the program kicked off, despite the school having just 23 graduates, down from the usual 28-20, principal Neeva Sibley said.

But what graduates they did have. With 11 graduates receiving honors, seven earning Concordia Parish diplomas in addition to their Monterey diplomas and 12 Beta Club members, this group has already accomplished something.

And with a number of graduates heading on to college, the workforce and in one case the U.S. Navy, this group may have more in them for the future.

&uot;It’s always a happy but a sad time too,&uot; Sibley said. &uot;I’m happy they’ve made this milestone and I hope this is not the end of their academic career, but you’re sad to see them go.&uot;

Salutatorian Amanda Smith spoke about the importance of using your heart and learning who you are, something she said she had done plenty of in high school.

&uot;High school has been about learning who you are,&uot; Smith said. &uot;Sometimes learning who you’re not is easier than learning who you are.&uot;

Paul Orr, the valedictorian, received the Louisana Sheriff’s Association scholarship, one of 13 scholarships awarded to the graduates during the ceremony.

Ric Luss, who is joining the Navy, will get $50,000 in scholarship money through his enlistment agreement.

It was also a time to look back at the time the graduates spent at Monterey, and several speakers did just that. Some of the graduates have spent their entire career in the Monterey schools.

&uot;We’re lucky here that we get them for 13 year, all through their schooling,&uot; Sibley said. &uot;We get to watch them evolve from small children to teenagers to young adults. We get to see them grow up.&uot;

Huntington School

Fourteen students set sail on their own Friday night at Huntington School’s graduation.

Salutatorian Emily Anders used the sailing analogy throughout her speech to family, friends and fellow graduates.

&uot;It’s time for us to jump ship and choose our own sails,&uot; she said, offering graduates this advice: &uot;Wherever you go, go with all your heart.&uot;

Huntington’s small class earned big honors, with seven students likely to receive Louisiana TOPS scholarships this year, said elementary supervisor Emily Guida.

Several students received a number of scholarships awarded Friday night.

Valedictorian Bradley Nelson gave a light-hearted speech, noting he and his classmates were prepared academically for college &045; but were also prepared for college parties.

&uot;It wouldn’t have been the same without this class with me,&uot; he said.