Class of 2017

Freed from fear of trash cans, George County grads ready for 'next ride'

VETO ROLEY/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD 
 George County High salutatorian Megan Staffieri, left, and valedictorian Emily Cates pause before the graduation ceremony on Friday night, May 20, 2016, in Lucedale.
VETO ROLEY/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD George County High salutatorian Megan Staffieri, left, and valedictorian Emily Cates pause before the graduation ceremony on Friday night, May 20, 2016, in Lucedale.

LUCEDALE -- Rains moved George County's graduation back an hour but could not could not quiet the message of success Friday.

"We don't do a good job getting our message out," Principal Wade Whitney told the students, their parents, family, and friends. "We are doing some amazing things here."

Salutatorian Megan Staffieri recounted the class' history through the George County system, such as learning as freshmen the seniors didn't really put freshmen into trash cans. She told her classmates they needed to build each other up -- that "life is short and we don't need to spend it tearing each other down."

She told the graduates to remember the best lessons are often not found in the lesson plans.

Whitney said the graduates needed to put maximum effort into everything they did, that they would be accountable to someone in their life: supervisor, each other, spouse or someone else.

"At some point you are going to have to sacrifice to make something happen." And said to be successful they must continue to have youthful energy, a "never stop" energy to see life through.

Valedictorian Emily Cates compared high school to a roller coaster, saying the ride was coming to an end and she and her classmates would have to get on the next ride to see where that takes them. "We must all get off," she said, as this portion of their lives was finished.

Whitney said he had challenged the student body to double the $2 million in scholarship money won by last year's class. "That is a good number," he said. "We can do better."

He said this year's class had $3.75 million in scholarship offers so far, and he was confident they would meet the $4 million goal by the end of summer.

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