North Dorchester graduates 102 in Class of 2017

HURLOCK — With the motto, “Behind us are memories. Beside us are friends. Before us are dreams that never end,” North Dorchester High School graduated 102 students in the Class of 2017.

Lemya Reeves, senior class president, welcomed the many guests who packed the high school auditorium to celebrate the achievements of the 102 proud students. Ms. Reeves thanked everyone for attending. Olivia Davidson made the salutatory address, and also thanked the gathering of celebrants.

“Throughout high school, we are overloaded with information about mapping out our future plans,” Ms. Davidson said. “Once we get to senior year, we’re expected to have everything figured out.”

Ms. Davidson said she changed her plans four times during high school, and finally decided to pursue a career in musical theater.

Olivia Davidson

Ms. Davidson said to never be afraid to fail, “no matter how many times we write and rewrite the future chapters of our lives. … To not fail is to not try.” She said she will never forget NDHS, and, “the memories I have made will always be irreplaceable.”

Next, Myasia Jones read a poem that asked a challenging question.

“This is the day we begin our future,” Ms. Jones said. “Our friends and family have supported us all the way through. We call this ‘graduation.’ What does that mean to you? Graduation?”

Through her poem, Ms. Jones said that the graduates lives are just beginning, and things don’t always go as planned. She urged her fellow graduates to accept responsibility for themselves, and surround themselves with positive people. Members of the choral group from the senior class then performed “For Good” from the musical Wicked.

NDHS Principal Jacqueline Sorrells then introduced H. Rex Harrison who gave the commencement address. Mr. Harrison graduated from the NDHS Class of 1966. He met his wife of 45 years at the high school. She graduated in 1968. Mr. Harrison was the senior class president at NDHS. He has worked in aerospace in the Washington, D.C., area for 45 years. He has been involved in many projects exploring the final frontier, including work on the Hubble Space Telescope.

H. Rex Harrison

“Here I am back at North Dorchester High School some 51 years after I graduated from here,” Mr. Harrison said. “There’s probably a grandparent or two out there that was in high school with me back in the ‘60s.”

Mr. Harrison said that despite his success, he explored many professional endeavors that didn’t work out, including trying to open his own business on the Eastern Shore.

“Please understand that just having hope that something happens will not make it happen,” Mr. Harrison said. “You need a plan and hope is not a plan.”

Mr. Harrison encouraged the graduates to make a plan, and weigh potential risks against rewards.

“If you take nothing else away from this, remember there is no shame in a dream unachieved,” Mr. Harrison said. “If you give it your all, put it behind you, learn from it and move on, there will be successes.”

Jerome Thomas and Beth Thomas

Valedictorians Beth Thomas and Jerome Thomas then addressed the graduates and audience.

“Today is a day to be thankful and celebrate all the Class of 2017 has accomplished,” Ms. Thomas said. “May you always remember that North Dorchester is your home.”

Mr. Thomas thanked his teachers, family and friends. In a moment that drew applause, heart-felt and warm sighs from the crowd, Mr. Thomas said that he transferred to North Dorchester from a private school; he sincerely thanked a list of students who first welcomed him to the school as a friend.

“We have grown up so much since freshmen orientation. … I’m so proud of all that we have accomplished as a class,” Mr. Thomas said. “We have experienced many ups and downs. … We have endured four years with the hardships of having an old school.”

Mr. Thomas said he and his classmates experienced occasional flooding of hallways during rainy days, sporadic changes in temperatures in the classrooms, and even a power outage, “yet we did not let these events stand in our way. We are resilient.”

Many of the speakers in the audience expressed excitement about the construction of the new NDHS, including Mr. Thomas.
As the ceremony wrapped up, and the graduates were about to receive their diplomas, Principal Sorrells said, “well graduates, this is what we all came here to do.”

Superintendent of Dorchester County Public Schools Dr. Henry Wagner presented each graduate with a diploma. Honoring a school tradition, the 102 graduates gathered around the flag pole in front of NDHS and tossed their caps in the air. Now they are ready to begin their future.

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