Thomas Dale High School Class of 2014
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Jun 10, 2014, 14:49
BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Thomas Dale High School seniors cheered and threw their hats in the air once they had officially graduated Fridiay.
CHESTERFIELD — The Stuart C. Siegel Center is usually personified by a sea of black and gold, however a tide of maroon and silver flooded the arena on Friday morning when 542 Thomas Dale Knights threw their arms in the air and loudly celebrated their high school graduation.
For one Knight in particular, she will become the very first student in her family to receive an education from a college institution, a prideful achievement earned along a burdensome path.
Tabetha House toiled through family hardship, including her mother’s brain cancer and her father donating a kidney in support of her own brother, while striving to earn her diploma.
In addition to working two jobs, House also participated in the Thomas Dale cheerleading squad, and her family adopted two children as a way to maintain a strong family environment.
With all of this going on in House’s life, she and her family continued to stress positive ideals and it showed as she beamed when handed her diploma on Friday.
Another Knight, Faith Miller, responded to her diagnosis of cystic fibrosis with positivity, and utilized her talents in music and acting to create an inspirational, national video dealing with her illness, all in the midst of earning her degree.
These are just two of many hardworking, inspirational Knights recognized by Chesterfield County Superintendent Marcus Newsome as he stared out at flashing cameras and grins plastered from cheek to cheek.
“In my day this would be called a Kodak Moment, but in your day this is a Twitter moment,” Newsome said.
Newsome proceeded to speak highly of the entire Thomas Dale graduating class.
“The world is going to find out how great you are. You are the hope for this nation, the hope for this world and I am confident that our future is bright because I know of the many talented young people in this class,” Newsome said of the graduating seniors.
Salutatorian Laurin Sherrill reflected upon many cherished moments that she experienced with many classmates during her time at Thomas Dale, including sports games, snow days and her work for the yearbook and school newspaper.
As all seniors march on into their futures and discover their individual identities, Sherill said they will forever remain Knights whose separate stories have all combined to comprise one large puzzle that defines the graduating class.
“Today, we complete the puzzle as Knights,” Sherill said.
Valedictorian Carlene Uzel described a scenario to the Thomas Dale graduating class where they are standing on the bank of a wide, flowing river unable to see the other side.
Upon deciding to travel a little bit further down the bank, there is a path of stones that crosses out into the river, at which point they take the step onto the first stone, a stone Uzel compares to the first steps of their academic journey through high school.
“Now, on this day of graduation, we have finally, after four long years, reached the other side of that rolling river,” Uzel said, encouraging her fellow classmates to celebrate this accomplishment but to continue moving forward and crossing the next river.
School Board member Carrie Coyner spoke during the graduation and she told students to trust their gut feelings as a tool for stepping successfully into the future.
“Your intuition is your secret weapon. If you use it, you will diminish your chance for regret,” Coyner said, before stressing the importance of taking risks and acting outside of your comfort zone.
Coyner then stood at the podium and sang a Thomas Dale-themed version of The Cup Song as an inspirational demonstration of how to do something that is uncomfortable for yourself.
Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle also spoke during the graduation.
Based on input from the Thomas Dale High School faculty, Newsome awarded two students, Robert Croson III and Dornisia Smith, with the Superintendent’s Award for Excellence, Scholarship, Leadership and Citizenship.
Dean Lee was presented with the Faculty Leadership Award and William Jackson Jr. was given the J. Wilson Crump Award/Scholarship, two honors selected by faculty and staff for academic excellence.