Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

May 19, 2014

Brookwood graduates ‘open next chapter’

THOMASVILLE — Brookwood’s 35 seniors did more than close the book on their high school careers on Saturday.

“We open the next chapter of our lives as we graduate tonight,” Valedictorian Allison Stauffer said.

Stauffer’s address featured words of encouragement.

“We’ve all been given unique talents. Not everyone has the same gifts, but we all have a unique genius,” she said.

“It is not our failures that define us, but how we respond.” Stauffer continued while referencing President Abraham Lincoln and his failures that ultimately led to his successes.

 “Lincoln was defeated eight times when he ran for president, but the ninth time he succeeded. If we try, we will succeed. My challenge for you is to redefine success. When we use our talents to the fullest and use our gifts to encourage others, we can impact through our efforts.”

Stauffer left her class with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

And she said, “Never lose faith that you can succeed.”

Salutatorian Kennedy Deaver compared her 34 peers to musical artists, ranging from Lady Gaga to Mozart, because, according to Deaver, the each one owns a unique personality and fits as one class.

“Even those who came into the class later fit perfectly in with our class. I hope we all remember our class stage doesn’t end here. We will continue to contribute and not forget our individual personalities,” concluded Deaver.

The Honorable Theodore Sedgwick, United States ambassador to the Slovak Republic, addressed the class. After Senate confirmation, he was sworn in on July 4, 2010.

“I hope you know what a special place you’ve grown up in. Hospitality is something to be talked about,” said Sedgwick.

He encouraged the graduates by constantly applying the mindset of freshmen — with elements of humility and curiosity.

Sedgwick said, “The more humble, the more curious you become. There needs to be a balance of humility and confidence. Right now, you are the leaders at your school as seniors. This fall you are freshmen again. You will be at the bottom finding your way to the top again. Freshmen are curious. Keep your hearts and minds open to new experiences.”

Sedgwick gave the graduates an example of his experiences with making a documentary in Afghanistan soon after he graduated.

“It was the greatest experience of my life and helped shape it. There are ripening virtues that help you throughout your life. Lessons can be serious setbacks that will end up benefiting you,” he said.

He concluded, “My humble advice is always be a freshmen and stretch your mind and remain humble and curious. If you don’t take anything else from this tonight, remember this.”

After Sedgwick’s address, Interim Headmaster Thomas F. Johnson presented two special awards.

Eleanor Stubley received the Patricia James Bullock Memorial Service Award. It recognizes a student that provided outstanding service during their years at Brookwood. The winner exemplifies loyalty, generosity and dedication.

The Headmaster’s Award was given to Hunter Avera. It honors the student who exemplifies everything a Brookwood student should be. The winner is chosen by the faculty and it is considered to be the most prestigious award given at Brookwood.

The 2014 graduates had an average of 1788 on their SAT scores and have applied to 153 colleges and universities across the United States.

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