WHITMIRE — Twenty-eight Wolverines graduated Monday night from Whitmire Community School, a ceremony that included an address by Whitmire High School alum Kim Hamilton.
In a touching tribute, Hunter Wagner wore the tassel of Allyson Greenway, who was tragically murdered about a year ago and he wore a button with the picture of his close friend since kindergarten with whom he did pageants all through middle and high school.
Hamilton completed this year as principal at Boundary Street Elementary and will work next year as Newberry Middle School principal.
Hamilton was student body president when Whitmire Community School Principal Joey Haney arrived at what was then Whitmire High School.
She previously taught at Whitmire Community School, worked as a middle school science coach and worked up to an assistant principal position there.
“She embodies the school motto as a Wolverine Committed to Success,” Haney said.
Hamilton remembered substitute teaching and meeting some of the graduates during those years. She offered five life lessons to the graduates.
1. Find your passion and what makes you happy. Ron Harsha, who coached her when she played guard on the basketball team, told them to trust their gut. She said he pulled her aside and coached her to trust her gut and lead the team. Hamilton said years later she trusted her gut when she changed majors from speech pathology to education.
“Trust your gut and you won’t go wrong. Though you are young, you have vision and intuition,” she said.
2. Make your own rules. “Break rules but not the law. By that I mean you should think outside the box,” she said. She relayed the story of how Coach Jim Suber helped her step out of the classroom and into a science coach position, a stretch for her that led to future success.
3. Failure is an option. She said her older sister taught her at an early age that she could not always win.
“I want you to hate losing, not love to win, because that emotion makes you push yourself harder,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions or step out on faith. Don’t be paralyzed by fear of failure or your life will never change.”
4. Fill a bucket daily, meaning give of yourself, be it time, a hug, a compliment, email or note. She said as a student and later teacher at WCS, her buckets were filled on a daily basis.
5. Never quit. Hold to the Wolverine Creed and hold near to its values.
“There may be naysayers, haters, hard times, pain and suffering but you are Wolverines and equipped with the skills to survive,” she said.
Those sentiments were shared by Valedictorian Shimia Hunter and Salutatorian Erin Jeter.
Jeter thanked teachers, parents and others who helped the class of 28 reach graduation.
“Look to your left and right (graduates). Most of us grew up together. Now it’s time to move on to the next big thing,” Jeter said.
Jeter said the key to future success is not a magic key, but rather key traits like hard work, persistence and willingness to fail as well as the courage and faith to look challenges into the face and come through them a stronger person than before.
She quoted Jeremiah 29:11 and Philipians 4:13 to remind the graduates, their friends and families how the future remains in God’s hands.
Jeter will attend Clemson and study biology/pre-med next fall while Valedictorian Hunter will attend USC-Upstate studying biology/exercise science.
Hunter was poised as she spoke of “Our (high school journey ending) and now we venture on our own paths. We must use what we learned to guide us…. I believe we have the potential to be greater than average and leave a legacy only if we turn that potential into action. I believe this class can make a difference.”
Hunter spoke of a family who emigrated to this country. Not only are the parents becoming educated but their child is the first in that generation to attend college.
“Be you and make sure to love what you do. You are the key to the doors of opportunity (opening),” she said.
“WCS has given me confidence to do what I love,” Hunter said. “Some people believe at a small school you cannot achieve as much as larger areas, but (I could be a leader here) in band, basketball and softball (which built my belief in myself).”
Hunter quoted the late Maya Angleou concerning courage and virtues.
She reminded them that their actions will leave an imprint and quoted Psalm 46 to remind graduates of her belief that God is always with them.
“The next steps may not be smooth or balanced as we venture to adulthood,” Hunter said, “but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we define the outcome.”