Huntington seniors, alumni say goodbye forever

Published 12:10 am Saturday, May 15, 2010

Down the street from Huntington School is a small, square building across which the school’s seniors have typically left a graffti mural of their names.

It didn’t happen this year. One side bears a message about homecoming 2009, a second about the football team, a third about the cheerleaders, but the wall traditionally tagged by the seniors is mostly bare.

It rained when they went to do it the first time, and they never got around to finishing the task, the seniors said.

“We need to go put our names on it,” said Abi Brown, the class valedictorian. “We need to do that tonight.”

If the seniors do, they’ll be the last class to do so — when they walked across the football field Friday night, they were the final graduating class of Huntington School.

The school’s board of directors announced in late April the school will close at the end of the academic year.

The weight of being one of the last people to walk the field wasn’t lost on Colby Gray, the class salutatorian.

“Huntington will always be a part of me, and it will always be a part of the community, too,” he said. “Anyone who has been involved with Huntington — even those who didn’t graduate — will always have that Hound pride.”

And while the significance of this graduation wasn’t lost on them, they still had the normal pre-graduation jitters.

“I’m nervous but happy to be graduating,” Ronnie Ardoin said. “My time here has been good, I liked it — I just don’t want to leave.”

Charley Hudnall had similar feelings.

“I’m nervous,” she said. “I’ve been here four years — it was fun, memories were made,” she said.

When Gray took the stage, he said that for some of the graduates, their greatest years were at Huntington School, and for others the best is yet to come.

But making that happen is up to the graduates themselves, he said.

“We determine our own future,” he said. “It is the choices we make that decide the path we take.”

Thanking parents, family and teachers for the years gone by, Gray said that their support taught the graduates valuable lessons.

“We stand before you older and wiser, ready to face the challenges before us,” he said.

“As we walk off this field tonight, we share in the victory.”

Brown compared the rigors of high school to having to take preparatory tests for the ACT or the GEE.

“Prep tests show you strengths and weaknesses,” Brown said. “To me, this is what high school is, life prep.”

With the end of high school comes a marked change of perspective, she said.

“When you are younger you are always asked, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up’ and ‘What do you want to be?’” Brown said.

“Instead now, they must ask, ‘What are you going to be?’”

With that in mind, the graduates know what they have to do to accomplish their dreams, Brown said.

“We stand here before you, no longer as children but as men and women, we have discovered our strengths and weaknesses, and we must take the next step to move on,” she said.

As the graduates walked across the field, a younger boy in the audience expressed sadness to see the final class leave the school.

And with that, the last nine graduates of Huntington School left to make a mark on a world much larger than a building housing a pump station in a corner lot in Ferriday.