Advice to Davie High graduates: Listen before speaking in anger

Published 12:25 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2024

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Sophia Isabel Brady started to realize something when she started as a freshman at Davie County High School.

Academic success is important to her future.

Yes, there were stressful times trying to keep those grades as high as possible; but the friendships and support she had at the school made it more fun than stressful.

Speaking to fellow graduates at the Saturday, June 15 commencement ceremony, the academic honoree said that high school is a time to grow and form individual identities.

“High school has provided me with the opportunity to meet the most amazing people, experience new things and create memories I will cherish forever.”

Sophia urged classmates to follow their dreams.

“Each person has unique gifts and passions … that will lead you to new opportunities. Change drives innovation. Change forces us to adapt and find creative solutions. Change builds resilience. Change teaches us how to bounce back.

“Let us undertake this journey with courage, determination and an unwavering belief in ourselves and everything we have worked for,” Sophia said.

Brooklyn Faith Lakey, student body president, welcomed guests to the ceremony. “We will always hold a piece of Davie County in our hearts – forever,” she said.

Samantha Ryen Froelich, the senior class president, offered the prayer.

“I pray each and every one of us continues to love and laugh as we do today. I pray we all dream big, for each of us is capable of amazing things,” Samantha said. “I pray we remember the love we have here in Davie County and realize that no matter where we end up, we have people who love us, who believe in us.”

Brandon Myles Wood, the War Eagle speaker nominated by the community and chosen by classmates, told his story – from sleeping on a friend’s couch to being taken in by the grandparents of another friend.

He considered dropping out of school at one point.

“We’ve all been dealt a different set of cards, some good, some bad,” Brandon said. “Play those cards. And no matter what you do in life, show some of that DCAW spirit. No matter where you go, you represent the DC.”

Principal Michael Pruitt urged students to listen more than they speak.

“I challenge you, when the urge to speak in anger rises, when someone else’s words have hurt you to the bone, when you encounter disagreement, I ask you to embrace quiet, to listen first, not for the sake  of responding, but for the sake of understanding,” Pruitt said.

Will Marrs, Davie High and regional teacher of the year, told his story of being so scared on his first day of teaching that he became sick; and how family, students and co-workers  encouraged him to fight through his fears.

He offered graduates three pieces of advice.

“Stay humble,” Marrs said. “Treat the janitor the same way you would treat the CEO. Don’t ever be so proud that you are afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ or to ask for help. Empathy makes this world a better place; if I have the means to help another, I should.

“Stay passionate,” was his second piece of advice. “Passionate people care. Passion is the willingness to  go that extra mile, not for recognition, but for yourself. Passionate educators raised me in this county. They taught me to believe in myself and to strive for more. Passionate people build other people up.

“Trust the process,” Marrs said. “More importantly, trust your process. These next few years, you will figure out so much about who you are as an individual. Do not compare your journey to someone else’s; it will rob you of the joy and triumphs of your own story.”

He told graduates that if they needed someone to lift them up, to see him after the ceremony.

“You are successful. You have graduated. War Eagles, you are ready to take flight.”