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Lessons learned from a graduate

What is the measure of success for today’s graduating seniors?

Are the number of medals worn on commencement day indicative of a student’s achievements? In part, they are.

Is the final score on a college placement test a suitable gauge of a pupil’s accomplishments in four years?

High grades indeed suggest hard work and study.

For one Natchez High School senior, success is defined as much more than the number of accolades attained and the numbers written in a transcript.

As he reached for his diploma on the school football field, DeCameron Combs taught an entire community Friday night that success can also be defined through perseverance, endurance and, most of all, determination. 

One night in 2007, Combs suffered severe burns when a candle caught the 5-year-old’s clothing on fire, his grandmother Ladonna Combs said.

After she was able to put the flames out, DeCameron was rushed to the hospital and then airlifted to Shriners Hospital in Texas.

Since then, DeCameron has had more than 40 surgeries. If the burns weren’t enough, DeCameron and his family suffered another tragedy four years later when his mother was killed while trying to cross the road.

Twelve years later, with the help of his classmates and teachers, DeCameron was standing with his classmates celebrating the end of high school and the beginning of the future.

“He hasn’t let anything stop him,” DeCameron’s former principal Tony Fields said. “He hasn’t let the fire or his mom passing away be a crutch.”

Fields said he recognized DeCameron’s spirit of determination when Field’s was an assistant principal at Frazier School.

The same spirit burns brightly in DeCameron today, Fields said.

“For him to be able to persevere and endure what he has been through, he is a role model for all of us,” Fields said.

We couldn’t agree more.

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