MONTEREY — The messages were optimistic and encouraging as Highland High School graduated 13 seniors last Saturday, June 10.
Salutatorian Brianna Wimer focused on change and failure, noting graduation is just one more scary change in life.
“What if you don’t know what your journey is going to be yet, if you don’t know your calling?” she asked, “That’s OK.
“I feel confident knowing that each of us graduates has an entire community behind us, rooting for our success,” she told her classmates. “When you fail, because you definitely will in some way or another, that’s OK,” she said. “Failure leads to growth.”
Valedictorian Megan Hoover addressed similar themes. “We made it to the day we’ve all been waiting for,” she said. “Today, we get pushed into the unknown.”
Hoover encouraged the class to pick a road based on the destination. “Embrace the change, smile through the pain, and do whatever makes you happy,” she said. “You need to be surrounded by people who push you and encourage you.”
Alleghany Mountain Radio general manager Scott Smith gave the keynote address full of humor and compassion. He began by thanking everyone and promising a short speech, followed by pulling everyone’s leg as he said, “Peace out,” and sat down to great applause. After principal Tim Good whispered in his ear, Smith quickly returned to the podium saying he was reminded he was supposed to say a few more words.
He took to the microphone to address “the elephant in the room” — his head, which did not
sport his usual baseball cap. He said other than a quick glimpse during the Pledge of Allegiance, most people had never seen his bare head, as his once-flowing main has steadily receded. He showed his graduation photo, complete with a classic 1980s coiffure.
“That guy in 1985, exactly 38 years ago, knew exactly what he was going to do,” Smith said of his younger self.
He had planned to move to Highland and take over the family farm, but life took a few turns. “That guy is not this guy,” Smith said, pointing to his chest.
“Change will happen,” Smith promised the class of 2023. “Like that guy on the screen, you may have it all planned out. And like that guy, it may all change tomorrow. “It’s how you respond to change; it’s how you adapt to change, and how you move forward after change that defines your future,” he said.
Smith encouraged the graduates and everyone else to follow the golden rule. “I am a huge believer in helping others whenever and wherever you can,” he said.
Though people may disagree, Smith said listening and trying to understand each other is essential. “In the end, they are another human being, just like you,” he said.
Good spoke briefly to encourage the graduates. “Today is not an ending, but a beginning to your bright futures,” the principal said.
All 13 graduates earned Career and Technical Education diploma seals. Nine students were honor graduates with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Four earned the governor’s seal, and three earned the board of education seal. One earned the Excellence in Civics seal, and two are early college scholars.
The class included: Brenna Baldwin, Brianna Borrell, Michael Campbell, Camryn Carpenter, Lacey DeAscentis, Joshua Earling, Megan Hoover, Matthew Lambert, Ethan Moore, Saara Souadi, Colton Williams, Brianna Wimer, and Kirsten Wood.
HHS seniors earn scholarships, awards
MONTEREY — The following graduates of the Highland High School Class of 2023 received scholarships last week prior to commencement.
• Brenna Baldwin — $500 Blue Grass Ruritan Club; $16,000 Fox Scholarship; $9,000 Go First; SOAR scholarship.
• Brianna Borrell — SOAR Scholarship.
• Michael Campbell — $500 Blue Grass Ruritan Club; $16,000 Fox Scholarship; $500 Highland Telephone Cooperative; $1,000 Monterey Lions Club Foundation; Mary Baldwin University Merit Scholarship; $500 Reynolds-Jenkins; SOAR Scholarship; Staunton Rotary Code of Ethics Award.
• Camryn Carpenter — $500 Blue Grass Ruritan Club; $1,000 Dupont Community Credit Union; $16,000 Fox Scholarship; $1,000 GRASP Last Dollar; Highland County Arts Council Scholarship; $300 Highland County Education Foundation; $500 Highland Telephone Cooperative; $1,550 Liberty Academic Scholarship; $500 Liberty Champion Award; $500 Liberty Legacy Award; $500 SCA Scholarship; SOAR Scholarship; Staunton Rotary Code of Ethics Award; $750 Virginia Scholarship.
• Lacey DeAscentis — SOAR Scholarship.
• Megan Hoover — $500 Highland Telephone Cooperative; SOAR Scholarship.
• Ethan Moore — SOAR Scholarship.
• Colton Williams — $500 Blue Grass Ruritan Club; $1,000 Monterey Lions Club Foundation; $500 Lohr-Lunsford Scholarship; $500 Mill Gap Ruritan Club; $500 Reynolds-Jennings; SOAR Scholarship.
• Brianna Wimer — $500 Blue Grass Ruritan Club; $500 Blue Grass Valley Bank; $2,500 Dawn Field Memorial Scholarship; $250 FFA Scholarship; $16,000 Fox Scholarship; $500 Highland Telephone Cooperative; $500 Mill Gap Ruritan Club; $10,000 Mustoe Seybert Family; $500 NWTF Dr. James Earl Kennamer; $1,000 Neverland Scholarship; $1,000 Reynolds-Jennings; SOAR Scholarship.
• Kirsten Wood — $500 Blue Grass Ruritan Club; $4,000 Bolar Ruritan Foundation; $500 FFA Alumni; $250 FFA Scholarship; $16,000 Fox Scholarship; $500 Highland County Public Library; $500 Little Switzerland Strutters; $500 Reynolds-Jennings; $2,000 Richard P. Coon Memorial STEM; SOAR Scholarship; $500 Stonewall Ruritan Club.
• Highland High School also extended a special thank you to Little Big Dog Rescue for sponsoring a one-year digital subscription to The Recorder for graduating seniors who will be leaving the county.