Soar like an eagle: Principal urges Davie High graduates to rise above the crows in life

Published 9:54 am Thursday, June 16, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Some 238 of the 391 members of the Davie County High School Class of 2022 are going to college.

Another 50 already have jobs lined up.

Six are joining the Armed Forces.

They’ve earned more than $5.7 million in college scholarships.

This is the class that entered the new campus on Farmington Road as freshmen. It’s the same class that had their sophomore and junior years of high school drastically changed by the pandemic.

“This group of students, written off by some as damaged by the pandemic, has risen to become the most decorated class in Davie High history,” Principal Michael Pruitt said to the graduates and a stadium full of guests Saturday morning at commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2022.

Pruitt based his speech to graduates on the eagle and the crow. When a crow harasses an eagle, the eagle just soars higher to heights a crow can’t reach.

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference,” Pruitt said. “The little difference is attitude; the big difference is whether it is positive or negative. Feed the positive within you, the joy, the peace, the hopes, the humility, the benevolence, the faith. It’s how you silence the crows in life.

“You are only limited in this life by your imagination and your will to work. The crows in life have no power over you unless you allow them to have power over you. Climb, rise. Deprive those detractors of the oxygen they need to hold you back.

“Your high school years have been interrupted by a pandemic. There has been much said about what this pandemic has taken from you, and to be true, those losses are great. But through adversity has come resilience.”

He mentioned several success of Davie students.

“Keep learning, keep growing, keep dreaming, and when the crows of life keep coming at you, remember that War Eagles soar higher.”

The day started with class members filing into the stadium from the school, songs by the War Eagle Choir and a prayer by Rachel Marie Quance, senior class president.

“I’m thankful that we get to be here today with our families after powering through adversity,” said Madeleine Noel Kulis, student body president. “We were fortunate to have some normalcy during our last year at Davie, and I would like to think that we made the most of it.”

Whitney Leigh Marie Deloach, the academic speaker, mentioned some of the aspirations of classmates – given when they started school.

“Our aspirations were stronger than anything that could possibly have gotten in the way,” she said. “The world was an enormous ball of endless opportunities … the world was ours.”

And time went on. “We began to see the world as this big, intimidating ball of social pressure and competition. Instead of holding the world in the palm of our hands, many of us put it on our backs.”

As the pressure mounted, more realistic expectations in life followed.

“‘I will become’ has turned into ‘I hope to become.’ Our aspirations have gone from dreams to fact. Our goals became competitive rather than simply a destination.”

Deloach said that society has a weird affinity for superficial things such as test scores, but that today, each graduate who walks across the stage is being rewarded for the same thing.

“Friends, we’re each walking on the same stage and getting the same diploma today. Thee is no heirarchy here. Greatness is not a genetic trait. It’s an ambition. It is our choice to leave a positive legacy in this world. These positive legacies, even when they seem so small, are the roots of greatness.

“I hope we regain that confidence we had as a kid. Your only actual competitor is yourself. The world is yours. What path will you choose?”

Laura Ashley Tatem was the War Eagle speaker, nominated by the community and voted upon by classmates.

She looked around the stadium filled with community members proud of their success. “That’s what makes Davie County unique,” she said.

Tatem remembers entering that new school as new high school students. It was intimidating. She asked classmates for stories of their most memorable moments at the school, and the answers varied greatly.

Society, she said, measures success by possessions. “Measuring success like this is a recipe for a mid-life crisis. Write your own definition of achievement. Let it reflect your amibitions and abilities. We must have confidence in our failures as much as we do with our successes.”

She quoted Thomas Edison, who was criticized for spending so much time trying to invent the light bulb: “I haven’t failed, I found 10,000 ways that wouldn’t work.”

“They built off of their mistakes and criticism,” she said. “Take risks and keep your enthusiasm, even when the score is one to 10. Be resilient and accept your failures without letting them define you.”