VHS graduates encouraged to work hard

Published 12:25 pm Thursday, May 24, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Verbena High School commencement speaker Patrick Hape encouraged Verbena High School graduates to work hard and focus on doing their best at what they can control during graduation on May 23.

“There are 10 things that you have control of,” Hape, a former football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos, said.

He listed these as “being on time, work ethic, effort, body language, energy, attitude, passion, being coachable, doing extra and being prepared.”

Hape said even before he attended University of Alabama he knew the value of hard work.

“I worked on a hog farm for three years in high school,” Hape said.

When he attended the University of Alabama football camp, he was determined to work harder than any other perspective student there. The work paid off, and coach Gene Stallings guaranteed him a scholarship. He later went on to play in the NFL for eight years.

Hape told the students that people notice when you do the little things.

He emphasized the importance of not letting mistakes keep them down.

“I am here to tell you that through hard work and dedication, any of you in this room right now can do anything you set your mind to … you are going to have failures in life, but success is always your choice,” Hape said.

Principal Todd Davis shared his own advice with the 46 graduates.

“As you begin this next part of your life, I would like to encourage you to do these things — work hard, but also work smart, do that every day,” Davis said. “Nothing is handed to you, nothing is easy, you are not owed anything. No job or task is too small or beneath you. If you want to get ahead in life, volunteer to do the things other people do not want to be a better person than the person you have been.”

Valedictorian Courtney Penton thanked all of those who had helped her get to graduation.

“My mother never told me that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whoever I wanted to be,” Penton said. “As she guided me through these last 13 years of school, I don’t think she ever realized that the person I wanted to be the most was her.”

She recounted fun stories of the class’ time together.

“We have made great memories that I will never forget,” Penton said.

She wished her fellow graduates success in life after high school.

“Your family and friends are immensely proud of you right now,” Penton said.

She encouraged the students not to be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

“Have the courage to live a life that is true to yourself and not the one that others expect of you,” Penton said.

Salutatorian Joseph Champion spoke about his positive experience at the school.

“Being at Verbena has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I’ve made some amazing friends along the way,” Champion said.

Champion thanked those who had supported him in his time at the school, especially the band director Randi Simpson.

“You have always pushed me to do my best and helped me improve when I needed it most,” Champion said.

He also thanked his parents and family members for supporting him.

“I wish all of my classmates good luck and good fortune wherever you may go, and I thank you for all that you’ve done,” Champion said.

The VHS Class of 1968 served as the Golden Ambassadors for the ceremony.