BUCKHANNON-The 132nd annual Buckhannon-Upshur High School commencement ceremony was held at Rockefeller Center this past Friday. More than 240 students filed into the Rockefeller Center as the ceremony processional started with the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Band playing Pomp and Circumstance. Graduates filed in and took their seats. The National Anthem was sung by the Buckhannon-Upshur “Sound Waves” choir.
The students were welcomed by Faculty Senate Chairperson Mr. Brent Kimble.
Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Stankus addressed students with a congratulatory greeting and gave them a bit of advice. “You have a voice, graduates, use it,” Stankus said. “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. But let me caution you all, using your voice doesn’t give you the right to be disrespectful,” Stankus said. “Choose kindness and compassion always over pride and winning.” Stankus urged the graduates to create real connections with other people instead of hiding behind social media. “Don’t be the generation that hides behind social media, but learn to look people in the eye, give them a firm handshake, keep your promises and then, let your voices be heard,” Stankus said. “Never get tired of standing up for what is right or doing what is right.”
The keynote address was given by Chris Wallace, recruiter for the Memphis Grizzlies NBA basketball team. He is a graduate from the B-UHS class a of 1976. Wallace had some advice for the graduates saying it was their responsibility to serve their community any way they could. “Whether it be in the military, through teaching, mentoring, volunteering or in some other line of work, serve,” said Wallace. “Martin Luther King said this much better than I can,” Wallace added. “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve,” Wallace continued. “You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve, and you don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics of physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, so serve, serve, serve others.” Wallace said graduates would also inevitably face a decision between two kinds of pain, the pain of self-discipline or the pain of regret. “Achieving and accomplishing your goals and making good life decisions should be the goal. The alternative is later regret and often a lifetime of regret,” he told the Class of 2019. “Which would you rather experience the pain of self-discipline or the pain of regret? It’s your choice.”
Wallace also urged graduates not to measure their success to others’ successes. “Comparing yourself to others is futile,” he said. “You will always have a neighbor with a bigger, nicer house, and someone you know will probably make more money or have a superior job. That’s life, it’s not fair. Set up your own definition of success instead of copying everybody else’s definition.” And on the brink of Memorial Day weekend, Wallace urged graduates to remember they were lucky to have been born in the United States, saying everyone who is has “won the geographic Powerball lottery.” He said despite current problems like the addiction epidemic, the country is still a great place compared to many places on Earth. “No country in the history of the world has a greater multi-ethnic success story than we do or offers a better array of opportunities than the good old U.S. of A.,” Wallace concluded.
B-UHS Concert Choir, under the direction of Mr. Jeremiah Smallridge performed A Million Dreams with soloists Iris Kolenich, Will Selauder, Gauge Ware, and Chelsea Humphrey. He’s Never Failed Me Yet was performed next with a solo by Destiny Babbitt.
Presentation of Diplomas was made by Dr. Sara Stankus, Dr. Debra Harrison, and the Upshur County Board of Education members. Closing remarks were made by senior class President Carter Glover.