CHARLOTTE – Rocky River said goodbye to the Class of 2019 with a noon ceremony June 11 at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Principal Ericia Turner spoke of the “Chick-fil-A Group” as a lesson of fighting and perseverance she sees in this, her second class of Ravens to graduate.
Turner said the Chick-fil-A Group, a small collection of students with clean disciplinary sheets throughout high school, went off campus to get chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.
Turner didn’t blame them for their craving, but did take a positive from the students’ first disciplinary punishments that were being handed out for going off campus during school hours.
The group was determined to defend its position with a thesis, rhetorical appeals and counterarguments. They even outlined the possible consequences.
“As amusing as that story may be,” Turner said. “I encourage you to please carry that will to win.”
This year’s class, Turner continued, raised over $6 million in scholarships. The JROTC was offered $2.2 million in grants and scholarships alone.
The school was also officially put in the Guinness Book of World Records for a 2018 Patriotism Bowl football game that had the most-ever military flyovers on the same flight path.
Turned applauded parents and faculty, but mostly thanked and encouraged the students.
Senior Class President Hannah Behailu encouraged her classmates to remember the good times, control what they can and not worry about the rest.
Behailu, who is going to N.C. State University, then introduced Valedictorian Courtney Wilkins.
Wilkins is a biology major headed to UNC-Chapel Hill. She was a commander in the much-applauded JROTC program, was the vice president of the student government and a member of the National Honor Society who graduated with straight A’s.
Wilkins focused on how four years has seemed both long and short, but the Rocky River experience has paved the way for what’s to come.
“We walked in Rocky River four years ago nervous and unsure of what the future would hold,” she said. “Four years later, we are leaving just as nervous and unsure of what the future will bring. However, we can only all find peace in that we made it. We graduated.”
Turner said she was giving each student a small, painted rock to symbolize the strength and resilience of her senior class.
And Wilkins, the valedictorian, delivered the final advice for the graduates.
“Stay true to yourself and follow what makes you happy,” she said. “Don’t let anyone stop you from what you are meant to be. Even today, if you are unsure of what you want to do, be open to all life has for you.”