Benjamin Zora, who graduated from South Lakes High School Tuesday, was the last member of the Class of 2005 to receive his diploma. He didn’t mind, it was his birthday.
“They’re throwing me a party,” said Zora, as he waited in line just moments before the commencement ceremony started.
The ceremony, which was held in the gymnasium at the school, celebrated the graduation of South Lakes’ Class of 2005 — not Zora’s birthday.
During the ceremony, beach balls with the writing “Class of 2005” occasionally flew into the air, but the afternoon was marked by caps coming off and flying into the air after the ceremony.
The event featured several memorable speakers, including the student speaker, Denell Davis, who is also the Student Government Association secretary; the faculty speaker, James Petrick, who teaches English at South Lakes; and the guest speaker, Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill).
“Congratulations to all of you for making it here today,” said Davis. “Now we meet here for the last time.”
In her speech, Davis stressed the value of the diversity in the class. “We aren’t that cookie-cutter school — that’s our advantage,” she said.
USING SEVERAL METAPHORS in her speech, Hudgins took the opportunity to pass on some wisdom. She told the graduates to “drink water,” a metaphor for making the most of life.
“Be scared,” said Hudgins. “There can be no courage without being scared.” She emphasized to the students to stay involved and work to make a difference in their lives, which was also a theme in Petrick’s speech.
Intertwining several jokes, including a quote from the movie "Napoleon Dynamite," Petrick connected with the students and grabbed their attention. “May you take all your skills — your bow-hunting skills, your nunchaku skills — and walk out of here today and make a difference.”
On the serious side, Petrick quoted M. Scott Peck. “Life is difficult,” Petrick said. “And once you figure out life is difficult you have to accept it and even embrace it.” Near the end of his speech, which received a standing ovation, Petrick underscored to each student the idea that they could make a difference, often referring to the work of seniors this past year to raise money for the tsunami relief.
Davis, however, spoke the sentiments that everyone in the packed gymnasium was thinking. “Good luck Class of 2005 and thank you.”