Valedictorian Jenna Reed told her Class of 2011 classmates at James River High School to write their own story as they go through life during the school’s 52nd commencement on June 8.
“Go out there and make your story one to be remembered for generations to come,” she said during a teary address on the very warm late spring evening.
Principal Jamie Talbott congratulated the 120 seniors during the commencement, while noting 53 will attend four-year schools this fall, 39 will attend two-year institutions, two are entering the military and 26 are going into the workforce.
During his remarks, he took a moment to recognize Amanda Petty, who did not get to graduate with her class in 2010 because of serious injuries she suffered in an automobile accident.
“We are proud of how you’ve battled through the recovery process and we are proud of your accomplishments,” he told her as she received a standing ovation from the rest of the Class of 2011 and the crowd.
Talbott went on to offer his final lesson for the graduates– lessons he said they could take from “The Evolution of Dance” performance at the school’s fun day the week before.
“Have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously and try something new,” he told the class. “Don’t be afraid to fail,” he said referring to the “dance” performance that he said took 24 faculty and 13 students, “and learn to work together.”
He then admonished the graduates, “Don’t forget to stop and ask for help.”
Class President Shannon Kessler used the Dr. Seuss story “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” to encourage her classmates. With Purgatory Mountain rising in the background from the school football field, she quoted the final lines, “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”
SCA President Kendyl Kelly told her classmates among the things she’d learned at James River was,” That when you work so hard for something, there’s no shame in crying when you achieve it.”
Salutatorian Elizabeth Amos used the “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” lyrics to encourage the class.