CCHS holds graduation ceremony for seniors

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

By J.R. Tidwell


Students in the Chilton County High School Class of 2018 entered the Jeff State auditorium as seniors and left as graduates after the school’s ceremony on May 21.

After opening with a prayer and a moment of silence, valedictorians Nicholas Johnson, Allison Lightsey, Riley Locke, Tilby Miller, Emily Parrish, Elizabeth Sewell, Anna Smith, Mary White, Madeline Willis and Hannah Wilson, as well as salutatorian Laura Trammell, were honored for their accomplishments.

Locke then took to the stage to address both the crowd and his fellow graduates with a speech.

“The past couple of days have been very emotional for me,” he said. “We are overjoyed at the prospect of being done with high school and moving on to an exciting future. We are also overwhelmed with the fear of the unknown, afraid of shifting outcomes worse than our shifting grades. Mostly, we are understandably sad at the fact that we are closing another chapter on a book that we have put every fiber of our being into.”

Locke went on to give words of encouragement and motivation to his fellow seniors.

“As a teenager myself, I feel qualified in saying that we are constantly changing,” he said. “We are vastly different than the person we were last week. We will have changed just as much by this time next week.”

Locke quoted poet Dylan Thomas as part of his speech as well as singer Lorde.

“Seniors, each of you has your own dreams,” he said. “Never surrender them for anything or anyone. We only get one shot at life. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Locke wrapped up his speech by speaking on both the past and the future.

“Ever since I’ve understood what a valedictorian was, I’ve wanted to be one,” he said. “It was the prize I set at the end of the race to give me something to strive for. Writing this speech has been very poetic. I am getting the closure I need. This feels like the proper way to end the story.

“I have spent the past couple of days mourning. Mourning lost youth, lost friendships and lost time. But the time for mourning is over. It is time to celebrate, and to finally close this chapter in the book of life. I have spent the last four years writing a story about a boy trying to find his voice. We have found our voice, and I cannot wait to see how we will use that voice. To Chilton County High, goodbye, and thank you for the memories we will treasure for a lifetime.”

CCHS Principal Ron Pinson then took to the podium to address the soon-to-be graduates with a few words of wisdom.

“Fill your time with what you should do,” he said. “This leaves no time for things you shouldn’t do. There is no definition of success. Learn to embrace imperfection. Understand the difference between crisis and inconvenience. You will soon grow to value everything your parents and guardians have told you over the past 17 years. They are a lot smarter than what you think. Put your phone down, look at others around you and have your conversations with other humans. The simplest gift you can give others is a smile.”

After Pinson’s speech, each senior in attendance took his or her turn walking across the stage. After a few more words from Pinson, the new graduates sang the school’s alma mater and threw their caps into the air in celebration.