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Ferriday graduates credit parents, teachers for success

FERRIDAY — It was an hour before graduation, and the only people at Ferriday High School were the soon-to-be graduates and school administrators.

The atmosphere in the back parking lot was celebratory, a combination of academics and a block party, with students standing around a car with the stereo cranked loud, dancing to music with their graduation gowns half open.

“Graduation — it’s a Grammy-winning feeling,” said Melvin Cooke, 18, a huge smile on his face. “We went through a lot of years, some tough times, some good times, but we pulled through it all. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to say it’s the best day of your life.”

But even great days can have bittersweet moments, and Amanda Moreno, 17, glanced up at the school as she said, “I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss being with all my friends every day.”

The closer time got to the start of the ceremony, the more serious the students became. They still cracked jokes with each other and had friends snap photos, but they also fidgeted nervously with their collars and shuffled their feet in anticipation.

But then the school band started playing “Pomp and Circumstance,” and the 63 graduates of Ferriday High School walked proudly across the football field to celebrate the culmination of their four years at the school.

Salutatorian Daniel Jolla III said that without their parents and teachers, the graduates would have never made it this far.

“Even though we had our fair share of disagreements, we know now that you were for us,” he said.

The graduates have dreamed big dreams while at FHS, thinking of what they will do when they are out in the world, and Jolla encouraged them to make those dreams a reality.

“When we strive to make our dreams a reality, we will encounter people who have negative words and thoughts against us, but in spite of the negativity, I encourage you to press on,” he said.

Valedictorian Xavier Allen spoke of having classes he loved and classes he hated, good days and bad days.

“The journey has been a difficult, tedious experience, but also full of excitement and wonder,” he said.

The purpose of graduation is to both celebrate accomplishments already done, and acknowledge the impact the graduates will have on the future, Allen said.

“Now is the time for us to take our gifts and put them to use in the best way possible,” he said.

“We never want to look back at something and say, ‘We wish we could have done it,’ or ‘You should have done that.’”

Finally, Allen said hard work would be necessary for future success.

“Anything is possible, but nothing will be given to you,” he said. “You have to earn it, with a good work ethic, determination and — most importantly — faith,” he said.

As they left the field with diplomas in hand, the graduates had once again adopted the air of celebration, hugging their families and making plans to meet up with their friends later.

And for that moment, Jolla’s departing words seemed to unite them.

“We are strong in faith and we stand together,” he said.

“Once a Trojan, always a Trojan.”

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