SPAN celebrates graduation

Published 10:47 am Thursday, July 27, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

S.P.A.N. of Chilton County celebrated graduation on July 26.

Two graduates, Ty Smith and Mitchell Walker, received their GED, while the others will be returning to their community school at the correct grade level.

Commencement speaker Dr. James Driggars spoke on success and failure.

“You are going to have success … then there will be times where you will feel like a Coke can in a hurricane,” Driggars said.

Since retiring from his optometry practice about seven months ago, Driggars has read 51 books, he shared some of the success stories of the people he read about. Oprah Winfrey was told she was not cut out for television. Driggars said today Winfrey is said to “be the richest woman in entertainment.” He told the graduates that Henry Ford filed bankruptcy twice before achieving his success.

“Walt Disney failed in two different ventures, and when Walt Disney went in to a company a third time he was told he didn’t have any imagination,” Driggars said. “No imagination. Have you ever been to Disney World?”

Driggars said his favorite example of determination is Thomas Edison because he did not give up after 10,000 attempts to make a lightbulb.

On a personal level, Driggars had difficulty learning in a lecture-style setting. From fourth grade on, he had to study with the textbook, while writing out the information in order to learn the material. He recounted failing his first college algebra test, then working hard to make a 100 on all of the other tests in the class. At the age of 65, he failed the national board certification test, which was given on a computer, twice before he passed it.

“I was good in my office. I knew what I was doing, but the computer thing messed me up,” Driggars said.

Driggars said a person’s thoughts whether positive or negative have a major impact on a person’s health, decisions and well-being. He encouraged students to think about uplifting things, such as hope and love, and to always forgive.

He encouraged students to never give up and to forgive themselves for mistakes along the way.

Everyone needs a friend that they can talk to during hard times, Driggars told the graduates. He said if they did not have anyone, they could talk to him.

He highlighted that there is a difference between deciding to do something and actually doing it, while encouraging students to take the necessary steps to keep moving forward.

S.P.A.N. is a court-order program for students who are at least two years behind in school and at-risk of not completing high school.

The program is supported by Chilton County Schools, United Way, Community Action and the Alabama Power Energizers.