342 South Caldwell graduates receive diplomas

May. 25, 2013 @ 01:21 AM

There were tears, laughter, serious moments, and memories.

Perhaps South Caldwell High School co-valedictorian Gentry Sanders, slight in stature and suffering from laryngitis at perhaps the worst moment of her senior year, summed it up best during her short speech.

"When I was little, Mom told me not to put my finger in a (light) socket," she told her classmates. "But that's what high school has been like -- quick, shocking and exhilirating. Soon, our parents won't be around to tell us not to put our fingers in sockets."

The 2013 graduating class set a high bar for next year's seniors. Nearly all of this class -- 94.6 percent -- graduated. A total of $3.3 million in scholarships were awarded this year alone.

That Spartan pride was evident in the speech given by co-salutatorian Jonah Farris reflecting on his experience at the county's largest high school.

"I am truly honored to stand before you as one of your students," he said. "I want to look ahead, something more terrifying than looking behind. For the first time, we are free from mandatory school, we can do what we want."

Fellow co-salutatorian James Collette remembered the fear he felt as he first walked the halls as a freshman, and he spoke of the future unknown.

"I was confused and awkward," he said. "After tonight, it will be a similar experience. Essentially, the world outside of high school will be like our first day of our freshman year."

Before the diplomas were handed out, as the sun drifted behind the school, principal Mike Peak gave the graduates one final piece of advice, as a way to give back to those who supported them along their 13-year journey.

"On this field, in this stadium, when this is over, find your mom, dad, grandparents, or whoever guided you, and give them a hug and tell them how much they are appreciated," Peake said.