Bartlett Yancey High School seniors walked across the stage and received their high school diplomas on Saturday, June 8 in the school’s gymnasium. Family members and friends filled the bleachers to share the joyous occasion with the graduates.
As students entered the gym they were greeted with applause and cheers from the crowd. At that point, the crowd was asked to stand. Lieutenant Darrell McLean played the National Anthem on the saxophone, earning him an applause.
Dr. Sandra Carter Superintendent of Caswell County Schools kicked off the ceremony by welcoming guests and addressing the graduating class.
“Seniors, I have followed you through all you have accomplished to be able to be where you are today, only minutes away from receiving your high school diploma,” she said. “I feel certain that your path has gotten a little bit easier over the last 13 or so years from the encouragement and advice from family, friends, teachers or other loved ones. So, for the Class of 2019, I’m asking that you look around to find those who are here today and provided you with advice and encouragement along the way and applaud them.”
“Of the 190 seniors of the Class of 2019, 152 students and that's 80% of this class is continuing their education at either a four-year or two-year institute,” Carter added. "Seven years ago, North Carolina passed an endorsement program which students have the opportunity to earn up to five different endorsements, 102 out of our 190 students earned at least one of those endorsements."
Carter said the Class of 2019 has earned over $2M in scholarships and grants. She also said eight seniors will be joining the military, covering all four branches after graduation.
She added, "with our strong Career Technical Education program, 33 our students are ready to enter the workforce."
"Class of 2019, as you know I've only shared a few of your accomplishments," Carter continued. "I feel certain that today is only one milestone in your future success."
This year, the guest speaker was 2002 BYHS graduate Reagan Chandler Gural. She is a graduate of Alamance Community College. Gural also holds a certificate in non-profit organization management from the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation Institute.
"It is an honor to be here today," she said. "It's been 17 years since I walked the hallways here at Bartlett Yancey High School."
"When I walked into the doors here today it was a surreal moment," Gural added. "When I walked across the stage in 2002 I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up and in ways I'm still trying to decide, but don't tell my boss."
She said she dreamed of being a ballet dancer, nurse and advertising executive.
She also said people should always be in a state of change.
"For without change we cannot grow," Gural said. "Whatever path you take, whatever career you find yourself in make sure it makes you happy. Do what makes you proud not what makes others proud."
Before diplomas were handed out BYHS Principal JoAnna Gwynn spoke to the graduating class. She thanked the guests for coming and thanked the Board of Education for their continuous support of the school.
"Not many people get the pleasure of seeing, observing and developing relationships with an entire class of students from the seventh grade to their senior year," she said. "I can truly say that it is an exception to the rule and [the] most rewarding experience of my entire life.
"For the first time in my career, I simultaneously feel overjoyed and my heart is heavy," Gwynn added. "Love comes in many forms and I have grown to love these extraordinary people."
After her speech students began to line up and were given their diplomas after their names were called.
Family and friends cheered as graduates exited the gym. Once outside, grads met up with loved ones for photos and hugs.
Despite the gray clouds lingering above, the Class of 2019 was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.