GAUTIER -- While embracing high school graduation, Gautier valedictorian Cameron Tingle told his 203 fellow graduates this must not be the height of their lives.
"Please don't let high school be the best four years of your life," He said. "I would hate to think that the best four years of your life consisted of standardized testing, having to ask permission to use the bathroom and John Wayne casseroles."
Tingle's witty address highlighted the commencement program for the Gautier High School Gators. After morning and afternoon showers, the skies cleared in time for the school's graduation celebration, bringing delight to the more than 5,000 graduates, faculty, family and friends at Gautier's Vaughn-Wallace Stadium.
Tingle also took advantage of technology, announcing he was live-feeding his valedictory speech and took a selfie of his entire class. He encouraged graduates to use their school pride to make a difference.
"Let's be proud of what we've accomplished so far, but let's not forget the 'so far.' Hopefully, this is just the beginning of all that each of us will accomplish. If you're going to college or getting a job right away, make the most of it."
"Never stop being a Gator," he said. "But starting tomorrow, we will be a different kind of Gator -- Gators in the real world. So come back and be the best Gator you can be. When you are successful, come back and share with the Gators who will be at GHS at that time. Come back to support them -- not to try to be one of them."
Tingle quoted the late legendary distance runner Steve Prefontaine: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice your gift."
Tingle will attend the University of Louisiana-Monroe, majoring in accounting. Salutatorian Joshua Thweatt plans to major in pre-med at Ole Miss. Tylor Ard, Ian Little and class president Maya McInnis rounded out the class of 2016's top five, and all received special honors by Principal Al Sparkman.