Early college holds graduation

Published 10:43 am Thursday, May 21, 2020

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Once a Phoenix, always a Phoenix.

The class of 2020 at Davie County Early College High School held their graduation ceremony Saturday.

Speeches were heard virtually. Cars with graduates and families paraded on US 158 and North Main Street to the early college, where the ceremony was held on a makeshift stage in the parking lot of Davidson County Community College.

It wasn’t a ceremony the graduates had anticipated, but one they embraced.

Most speakers mentioned Adrianna Barber, class member who died in a car wreck last year. Each graduate carried a sunflower in her honor, which was placed into a bouquet to give to her family.

The ceremony started with Bradon Finney singing the National Anthem, and Logan Wagner offering a prayer, who asked for help for graduates to experience “joy before wealth, reputation before reknown and love before power.”

Kaitlyn and Kayla Roscoe said that Adrianna brought “joy and life” everywhere she went. Adrianna, they said, lived by the philosophy: “Be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you.”

Sally Boger spoke, saying “The Phoenix is a symbol of strength and renewal.”

“These past few months have not been anything like you thought your last few months at early college would be,” said Principal Denise Absher. “A cloud was cast on your world.”

But in Phoenix fashion, she said students embraced online learning and socializing. She, too, mentioned Adrianna. “She taught us to stand up for others, especially those who cannot speak for themselves. She taught us to get up and do for others. She will forever be a part of the legacy of the Davie County Early College High School Class of 2020.”

Life, she told the students, isn’t easy. “But you are ready. The past four years prepared you for your future. You have the foundation to get out of your comfort zone. Walk in faith and remember, your Phoenix family is always behind you.”

Tracy Kassel, academic support specialist, was the guest speaker.

She told students to expect disruptions in their lives. Most adults, she said, aren’t doing now what they thought they would be doing when they were 17 or 18.

“You are your family’s bright hope for the future,” Kassel said. “Those caring adults in your life want nothing but for your success and happiness. When disruptions happen, your responses will define who you are.

“And you’re a Phoenix. Rising above and looking beyond is not just a slogan, it’s an action, a call to arms, a challenge to rise above the temporary setbacks and look beyond to what comes next.

“Be guided by love. Let love and a hope for a brighter tomorrow win. You only go this way once. Be cheerful and strive to be happy.”

Victoria Bailey was chosen to be the speaker for the class members.

“Adrianna Barber, she exemplified a fierce tenacity to stand proudly for her beliefs. We carry her spirit of resilience.”

She said she learned not only from teachers, but from her fellow students. “You educated me on self advocacy, sheer will and the charity of family.

“We have spent weeks mourning what could have been. Despite our irreplaceable loss, we have steadied one another. This graduation is another example of our fortitude.”

She spoke in Serbian, talking to her grandparents, mother and aunt, thanking them for their guidance and belief in her future. “My heart breaks,” she said about her mother not being able to attend. “I would not be here if it were not for you.”

Bailey looked to her fellow graduates. “I’m exceedingly confident in the successes of your futures.”

Molly “Abby” Boger said the early college taught her to be ready to face challenges.

She urged graduates to live in the present. “Our time is today. We are way more than a student body, we are a Phoenix family. You were able to make it this far and now we have the world to conquer.”