Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Class of 2013 - Colonial Heights High School
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jun 17, 2013, 15:36

CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT The Colonial Heights class of 2013 lines up and spends a few last moments with friends before the graduation begins.

COLONIAL HEIGHTS — The 230 students in the Colonial Heights High School class of 2013 sat in their seats Friday night on the football field of the middle school, but it wasn’t for a game. The graduates were ready to take the next step of their futures and leave behind the last four years.

Class President Joseph Anthony Tyler told his fellow classmates he could not offer any advice about the future or what lies ahead for them, or even offer any words of wisdom. But there was one thing he could talk to his class about and something Tyler said his class knew as well: the sense of community that comes from living in Colonial Heights.

“Through good times and bad times we have all been part of a wonderful community,” Tyler said. “From the first time I walked into Colonial Heights High School as a tiny freshman, I felt it and I know many of you did too.”

Tyler said living in Colonial Heights, a city where he said one can never be anonymous, has taught him lessons that he plans to take with him after graduation that night.

“It’s taught me that life is better, even easier, when we surround ourselves with others who share a common bond and common goals,” Tyler said. “Like it or not, we are a family — a Colonial Heights class of 2013 family.”

The salutatory address that evening was given by Thompson Allen Rowe, who like Tyler, said his class was unique because of how they grew up in a small community, making the big transitions in their lives together for 12 years.
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT The Colonial Heights High School class of 2013 listens to speeches as the sun sets before receiving their diplomas.

“Together we have transitioned from innocent elementary schoolers to awkward middle schoolers and finally to confident high schoolers with potential to accomplish all of our goals,” Rowe said.

There were two valedictory addresses that evening, the first being from Anderson Royal Scott, who chose to open his speech by clearing the air of many graduation speech cliches, such as “Congrats class of 2013, we did it, we’re all going to be whatever we want to be.”

Scott then encouraged the class to break away from the cliches and instead spend their futures gaining knowledge about things they find interesting.

“Even though high school is over, I challenge you to learn things that no one would ever teach you except for yourself,” Scott said. “I spent more time than I’d like to admit learning random facts about random things and I honestly believe that has made a huge impact on who I am today.”

Scott continued saying that one of the biggest inspirations in life came in the form of a mosquito. He then told a story about a few summers ago when he was forced to wear mittens because of the large amount of bug bites he had all over his body. This inspired Scott to learn more about mosquitoes and why he itched so terribly.

“The main point I am trying to get through here is don’t be afraid to look for information and inspiration literally anywhere,” Scott said. “The end of high school or the end of college should not be the end of your education. Education is everywhere.”

Andrea Guangyeng Zhou gave the second valedictory speech and told her classmates that the evening was not only a chance to take the next step in their futures but to take a moment to say goodbye to all the stress of high school.

“We are here not only to get our diplomas so we can say we graduated high school but also to acknowledge this stage of our lives has come to an end,” Zhou said. “This is the moment for all of us to realize this is it. After this most of us will go our separate ways to work on becoming our future selves.”

She then told the class she saw them as all having potential to achieving their goals. Zhou told the class of 2013 to try and reach all of their goals and not let fear hold them back.

“My encouragement for everyone in this graduating class is to find the courage to truly live is not my way of telling you to do daredevil stunts or live life on the edge,” Zhou said. “It is simply my way of saying do not rely on fear to make your choices for you in life.”

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