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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Graduates told to remember to ‘dream big’
Four hundred eighty-three seniors receive diplomas
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Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston: One of 483 Franklin County High School seniors celebrates Saturday morning after receiving his diploma during FCHS’s 64th commencement exercises.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Circuit Court Judge W.N. "Bill" Alexander II got down to the business of life Saturday morning during Franklin County High School's 64th commencement ceremony.

Alexander, a lifelong resident of Franklin County and a 1962 graduate of FCHS, was the keynote speaker for the Class of 2014.

Alexander urged the graduates to take the best and most precious moments from their school years and to create a future rich in opportunities and promise.

"You must work to make your community and the world you live in a better place to live for all people," he said.

Alexander spoke on what he believes to be the most important things in life.

"Life is about who you choose to love and not hurting other people," he said. "It's about how you feel about yourself and having trust, friendship, happiness and compassion. It's about sticking up for friends and replacing hatred with love."

He challenged students to be careful of the words they speak.

"You and you, alone, are responsible and accountable for your words and for your actions," said Alexander. "You must use your life to touch the lives of other people in a positive way."

Alexander closed his address by reminding students how they got where they are today.

"Don't forget who pushed you," he said. "The job you have and want depends a lot on what you learned at good 'ole FCHS. Don't forget who drove you to be better, smarter, stronger. Be grateful to family for their love and support. Appreciate your teachers who believed you could make it to this point."

Alexander also charged the graduates with the responsibility of being honest, true to self, respectful of the rights of others, goal setters, dreamers and contributors to their community.

"May your future be filled with adventure and accomplishments that surpass your wildest dreams," he said. "And remember to always dream big."

The commencement exercises were held at Cy Dillon Stadium / Fred M. Brown Field on the FCHS campus, as the seniors received their diplomas under a bright morning sun.

Thousands attended the ceremony. Parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends of the graduates filled the stadium and lined the fence around the football field.

Principal Debora Decker presided at her eighth FCHS commencement since she became principal. She welcomed the audience and coordinated the ceremonies.

Decker awarded diplomas to 483 seniors, with the assistance of administrators Judy Falls and Amy Johnson.

Among the graduates in the Class of 2014 were 64 distinguished honor graduates.

Decker said that school officials had expected that there would be 59 distinguished honor graduates, but that the final calculation of grade point averages showed there were five additional distinguished honor graduates.

FCHS gives special academic recognition to seniors who earn a 4.0 or higher grade point averages during their high school career. These seniors wear a white gown and are first in the processional and recessional during the ceremony.

Franklin County school officials made the decision to stop having a valedictorian and salutatorian several years ago in order to recognize more students. They said there is such a small difference in the grade point averages of the top seniors that it doesn't seem fair to recognize only two.

Senior Morgan McPherson gave the distinguished honor graduate address. McPherson reminded graduates of their experiences at Franklin County High School and encouraged them to reach for their goals.

"'Capture Your Dreams' is the theme of our yearbook this year," she said. "I think that is very suitable for our senior year."

McPherson also reminded graduates to thank their support systems.

"Without the support system of family, teachers and each other, we would not be standing here today."

The Class of 2014 also included 200 honor graduates, seniors with a grade point averages between 3.0 and 3.9.

The graduates were also addressed by fellow senior Chelsea LeAnn Hodges, who expressed well wishes to classmates who were leaving for college and the military.

"This is your life," she said. "These are your choices."

Graduates in the Class of 2014 received nearly $4.3 million in college scholarships.

The FCHS Chorale, under the direction of Kathy Carter, provided a musical selection titled "The Irish Blessing."

The senior class officers who participated in the commencement ceremonies included class President Seemran Patel, who gave the president's remarks.

Patel, who is a native of India, quoted Albert Einstein while addressing her fellow classmates: "If you have never failed, you have never tried anything new."

Vice President Nora Ann Ferguson gave the welcome, while class Secretary Taylor Harrell delivered the thought for the day. Tyler Linkous, class treasurer, gave the closing thoughts.

The faculty sponsors for the FCHS senior class are Allyson Lynch and Lauren Judson.

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