As the school year comes to a close, we say farewell to another extraordinary graduating class. The class of 2016 turned their tassels on Friday, culminating 12 years of hard work. It is the end of this journey, but the beginning of a world of opportunities. In this class of more than 1,500 students, we have many graduates who began a new chapter in their lives by starting college. Our students have plans to travel to universities across the nation. I applaud them in their future endeavors. We also have a number of graduates who will proudly start or continue service to our country in the military forces. Each journey is different, but all a new horizon.
Every student had a success to celebrate this year. I join our teachers, parents and community as we celebrate those successes. The journey through high school may sometimes have seemed like a great mountain as our students maintained rigorous class schedules and extra-curricular activities, all while balancing family requirements. Some students also worked through their high school years, all while maintaining good scores. These sacrifices do not go unnoticed. A number of students also became the first in their family to attend college, while others became the first in their families to finish high school.
As I shook the hands of students at several of the graduations, I was honored to be your superintendent and so happy to see each of you achieve this milestone. For one group of graduates, the commencement was especially poignant for me. As the graduates marched across the stage, I saw the smiling faces of students who were my kindergarten students during my first job as a principal at Deep Branch Elementary School. As all parents beam with pride during graduations, I also took great joy in seeing these students graduate with the class of 2016.
Over the past weeks, I also had the opportunity to congratulate the recipients at Fairmont High School who received academic scholarships. Their successes and excitement mirror students all across the district. We have a record number of students who received a variety of scholarships, including the coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship, military scholarships and more.
This is my first graduating class as the superintendent for the Public Schools of Robeson County. I am extremely pleased of all the accomplishments of the students in academics as well as sports.
I salute parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors for your efforts to support students to reach this goal. For some, these 12 years may have flown by, but we know for parents it was many nights of worry, hard work and prayer on their part as well. As parents, we all want the best for our children. I join each of you as we take pride in the class of 2016. I am so proud of all of our seniors who have reached this landmark in their life.
Graduates, as you continue on this new journey, I hope you will stay true to your dreams. As you move forward, be sure to look back and give thanks to everyone who supported, mentored or cheered you to this day. As you thank them, I also hope you will be inspired to pay their kindness forward. You may give back as a mentor, donor, teacher or just a friend to a student who follows you.
Congratulations and best wishes.
Tommy Lowry is the superintendent for the Public Schools of Robeson County.