Natchez High, NECA honor 2017 graduates

Published 1:28 am Saturday, May 27, 2017


NATCHEZ — With bursts of confetti, sounds of air horns and many thanks to God for holding off the rain, Natchez High School and Natchez Early College Academy celebrated commencement Friday.

A total of 14 students made it through the NECA program, while more than 200 graduated from Natchez High School in the 28th annual commencement. NHS Valedictorian Nigel Dent said the class of 2017 has done more with less.

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“It seems like every year, we lost a teacher who was crucial to us passing the state tests,” Dent said. “Some of my classmates suffered the side effects of such a loss.

“Yet we graduate a class of over 200 students who earned over $1.5 million in scholarship offers. We made it.”

Dent said now that the class is transitioning from Natchez High School to the real world, they are no longer the class making do with less.

“We have the whole world before us, with limitless opportunities,” Dent said. “I urge you to find success, however you define it personally.

“Find something that makes you happy, be it a career, a hobby or someone. I hope you wake up and experience happiness every day.”

Dent asked the class to continue to learn.

“Take advantages of opportunities to learn more, see more, become more, so that five to 10 years down the line, we can come home not just to be here, but to improve our home,” Dent said. “Natchez was instrumental in building us into the best version of ourselves we are today. It is only right we should help guide it to the better version of itself it will be in the future.”

Salutatorian Candi Ware also emphasized that the class of 2017 did more with less, as Principal Tony Fields would say.

“We fear not because we know God always gives His hardest battles to His strongest soldiers,” Ware said. “That is why we are the almighty class of 2017. Our high school experience has been quite interesting to say the least, but we would not dream of having it any other way.”

Ware said she would not say something cliché such as the sky is the limit because as the class learned in AP calculus, the sky is just the beginning.

“After today, we step into a world where there are not always second chances,” Ware said. “Let your dreams be bigger than your fears, and your actions larger than the world. A docked ship is safe, but that is not what ships are made for.

“Keep your face in the direction of the sunshine, and you will never see a shadow.”

In giving the farewell speech, Robert Bradford Jr. looked back on an interaction with a private school student. The student asked him how they prospered in an F district.

“Even in freshman year, with our torn textbooks, maybe a doorknob that would not turn all the way so you could not get into class, you press through,” Bradford said. “And somehow we rose to the top. Thank you to our teachers for putting in us something we could reap the benefits from — an education that is second to none.”