By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The 22 graduates of Edgecombe Early College High School walked across the stage to receive their diplomas Thursday evening and into the next phase of their life.
“We finally made it,” said Heather Nicole Mullins, Class of 2013 valedictorian, at the commencement exercises in the Keihin Auditorium on Edgecombe Community College (ECC)’s Tarboro campus.
“Walking across the stage and receiving a diploma or degree occurs in a moment,” said Shakeal O’Neal Moore, student council president. “Graduating is merely a moment, but it’s the determining moment – the moment that determines future moments.”
Moore told the graduates that they would have important decisions to make in the future, but they should get up in the morning “knowing that you’re prepared for the world that awaits you.”
Dr. Katrenna Rich, Early College principal, encouraged the graduates to believe in themselves and have a positive attitude as they embark on their post-graduation life journey.
“The word ‘commencement’ should not be interpreted as an end but as a beginning,” Rich told the graduates. She asked them to take the time to enjoy all the pleasures that life has to offer, beginning with the receipt of their high-school diplomas.
“Kick up your heels! Celebrate your victory today,” she said.
John Farrelly, superintendent of Edgecombe County Public Schools, advised the graduates to “set your priorities” and focus on the important things rather than spending time and energy on the “small stuff.” He expressed his confidence in the graduates’ potential.
“I believe you all have it in you to go out and make a difference in this world,” Farrelly said.
The graduates’ faces beamed with self-confidence as they moved the tassels of their caps from the right side to the left side and officially became Early College alumni.
“This school has helped mold us into the individuals we are today,” said Brittany Paige Linkous, class salutatorian. “We are Edgecombe Early College graduating Class of 2013 and tonight is our night to shine.”
As the new principal at the Early College, Rich said she is “extremely proud of the accomplishments that the senior class has made,” including earning college credits and receiving scholarship awards.
“They averaged 54 hours of college transfer credits in addition to their high-school diploma,” said Rich.
Numerous scholarships were awarded to graduates Thursday evening. Kim Wittig, chair of the Distinguished Young Women of Edgecombe County, awarded scholarships to three young women in the Class of 2013 – Mullins, Meagan Brooke Harrelson and Brittany Nicole Davenport.
“These young women have represented their class well and have truly demonstrated that they are our future and we’re in good hands,” said Wittig.
Chad Hinton, president of the Tarboro Rotary Club, awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Linkous, whom he said exemplifies the club’s motto “service above self.”
David Harrelson, a representative from Keihin Carolina Systems Technology, awarded a $2,500 scholarship to Heather Nicole Mullins.
Kathy Webb, ECC college liaison, announced the award of $500 scholarship from Delta Kappa Gamma to “future woman educator” Kyndle Nicole Craft.
Each graduate received a copy of Dr. Seuss’ book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” as a symbol of embarking on the next leg of their life journey As Mullins told her classmates, “In high school, were taught life lessons that will go with us wherever we go.”
Edgecombe Early College High School Graduating Class of 2013
Yadira Elizama Botello
Carol Anne Brown
Nikeya Raychelle Cherry
Kyndle Nicole Craft
Alejandra Cruz Lopez
Brittany Nicole Davenport
Garbriel Thomas Ewuell
Anel Rubi Garibay Gatica
Robert Stephen Gonzalez
Meagan Brooke Harrelson
Tanner Reed Harrison
Kristin Danielle Lee
Brittany Paige Linkous, salutatorian
Tyler Reid Lynch
Shakeal O’Neal Moore
Heather Nicole Mullins, valedictorian
Collin Denton Rhodes
Brandon Edward Rountree
Lucas Brian Souva
John Ronald Walton
Shannon Marie Webb