Newberry Observer

Leaving a lasting legacy

PROSPERITY — Mid-Carolina High School commencement speaker and alumna Virginia K. Catoe challenged each graduate to leave a lasting legacy as they walked out of Mid-Carolina High School one final time.

“What is a legacy? A legacy is about living in life, it’s about learning from the past, living in the present and building for the future. Having a legacy helps us decide the kind of life that we want to live and the kind of world in which we want to live. Having a legacy is more about sharing what we’ve learned along the way and not just what you’ve earned,” Catoe said. “A more meaningful definition of legacy is when you realize that you are making a lasting and energizing contribution to humanity, by serving a cause greater than your own, embrace your uniqueness and realize that there is only one you.”

She challenged each graduate to consider four traits that will benefit them as they start new chapters in their lives: service, humility, appreciation and passion.

“Let your service to others be the focus of who you are and what you do every day, find a way to go beyond yourself and give back to your community. I heard once that without humility, there would be no humanity. Stay humble in your accomplishments, seek to fill your trunk of knowledge and use every ounce of technology at your disposal,” Catoe said.

She added that as each graduate moves on from Mid-Carolina they continue to be an ambassador for the school and show appreciation and passion in what they do.

“As you move through life, continue to be an ambassador for our amazing high school, our hometown community and most importantly your family, appreciate others for who they are, never forget to appreciate your classmates, teachers or your parents and live your mission every day,” she said.

Keeping in mind these four traits, Catoe is confident that the graduates can handle anything life brings them.

“Graduates you are clearly standing on the shoulders of giants today. These giants are your parents, family, teachers, community and all of us who are honored to wear the red and black colors. With these four traits, you will surely be prepared for what life throws your way,” Catoe said.

Class valedictorian Jonah Shealy took the opportunity to encourage his fellow classmates to always persevere.

“As our responsibility increases perseverance will define our success. In our past we have been tested, most literally in the classroom, but also through peer pressure, athletics and the arts,” Shealy said.

He recalled his own personal experiences where he has persevered and encouraged his classmates to do the same no matter how difficult the situation.

“The one year I played junior varsity soccer I faced the test of being trucked my first game on the field by an opposing player. However, I persevered by making it all the way off the field to the bench,” Shealy said. “During band camp my sophomore year, after I was running onto the marching field after a water break, I was once again trucked. I got up, limped onto the field and finished the rehearsal. When I got home that night my foot was swollen to the size of a bowling ball, but my doctor said it was not broken. My foot was indeed broken, but I persevered and finished the rest of the marching band season in a boot.”

Shealy said as challenges arise, some difficult more than others, the way they are handled is what defines you.

“How will you handle these challenges, that is what defines you. We define our own success whether you are going into the military, workforce or higher education, challenges will cross your path. Persevering through them is so important because it will mean the difference between success and failure,” he said.

Salutatorian Sarah Connelly’s address mentioned four points that she would like for each graduate to take with them as they embark on their individual journeys. Those four points are: set goals, give thanks, honor family and God through actions and step out of your comfort zone.

“Write down goals and put them in a place where you can see them every day. Less than three percent of Americans have written down goals and less than one percent review them daily. People with written goals are 50 percent more likely to achieve them,” Connelly said.

She encouraged her classmates to make a plan, write it down and aim high. Giving thanks to those who worried, prayed and sacrificed everything to help the graduates reach graduation day was Connelly’s second point.

“All of these people have laughed and cried with us, worried about us, prayed over us and most importantly, sacrificed everything to help us get where we are right now. Don’t be afraid to express your thanks openly to people you’ve come in contact with,” she said. “I have learned through experience that giving thanks to communication no matter how awkward you may think it will be is better in the long run. When people know you are thankful, they are much more willing to help you in the future.”

Connelly also encouraged her classmates to honor family and God through actions, always keeping others in mind.

“The things we do, both good and bad, are a reflection of our families. Although we make mistakes we should aim to do well overall. Keeping others in mind when doing something is not only beneficial for our character, but it creates a good reputation for ourselves in the eyes of those we care about,” Connelly said.

Connelly’s final point was to learn to step out of your comfort zone, no matter how awkward it may seem.

“You can do anything you set your mind to. We were built for greatness, but we have to be willing to aim high and risk failure. Ships were built to sail the world, not sit in the harbor the whole time. You are also built to sail and achieve great things, now is the time to get out of the harbor and begin a new journey for greatness, don’t be afraid to sail,” Connelly said.

While waiting to line up, these ladies stopped for a quick picture. waiting to line up, these ladies stopped for a quick picture. Kelly Duncan | The Newberry Observer
Before the ceremony, students posed for pictures with classmates. the ceremony, students posed for pictures with classmates. Kelly Duncan | The Newberry Observer
Mid-Carolina High School salutatorian Sarah Connelly and valedictorian Jonah Shealy. High School salutatorian Sarah Connelly and valedictorian Jonah Shealy. Kelly Duncan | The Newberry Observer

By Kelly Duncan

Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.