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Class of 2011 has courage to face challenges

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are,” is a quote from E. E. Cummings.
Cummings was one of my favorite poets. I never quite understood everything he was saying, but his writings made me think.
He never capitalized letters, including those in his name. Yet, his poems usually take on a form of written art to be interpreted by the viewer.
I was reminded of this poet, as well as other lessons, learned through recent trips back and forth to our local schools. Over the last few months I have been to the Unicoi Science Fair, visited Love Chapel Elementary, Temple Hill’s Earth Day, Science Fair and Fun Day, Rock Creek Science Fair, Unicoi County High School’s baccalaureate, awards day, superlative photo shoot, the cover shoot for our graduation special this week and graduation itself.
On days I wasn’t at one of our county’s schools, I felt like I needed a doctor’s excuse explaining why. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that my name was called out to receive a diploma, if I just knew which school to be at.
But I have loved it all. I can attest first-hand that we have some wonderful students in this county. They show such eagerness in learning and pride in what they have done.
These visits have also shown me how much more advanced today’s classrooms are than those I attended.
I don’t consider myself old, but my first contact with a computer came after I had started work for The Erwin Record. Today, youngsters are introduced to a form of electronics before starting school, and many of them are using computers in kindergarten and first grade.
Of course, we all still study the same history lessons. History is still history, but things that took place in my childhood are now pages in current history books.
With today’s youth starting out with more advantages than my generation, I am anxious to see where they can take us. It is up to them to find new and better ways, cures for things older ones are suffering from and set the course for the future.
The new directions begin now for our 2011 graduating class at UCHS. This class really impressed me and seemed to also stand out to the faculty that taught them.
Graduation night was very moving. There was a closeness that could be felt just by being in the audience. This class had such a strong bond that you couldn’t be around them without feeling the love and respect they had for each other.
I had witnessed it many times through my recent visits to the school. It was a closeness and comfort with each other that I had never experienced in school, and many never experience with other humans in life.
Could it be from the life-threatening cancer their fellow classmates Nick Rogers and Josh Judkins experienced? They saw that cancer has no age limit. But, they also saw the miracle of overcoming and survival.
Could it be from the tremendous team spirit the school embraced? They painted their bodies, came out in droves and developed something known as the “roller coaster.”
Could it be the group efforts they worked so diligently on? Just recently, they collected items for the tornado victims in Greene County.
Could it be the intelligence of the class? This year scholarships awarded totaled more than $2 million.
I feel sure that it is a combination of all of these things. This class seemed to embrace each other’s strengths and accept each other’s weaknesses and differences.
Even though I only knew a few of them personally, they accepted me, welcomed me and made me feel comfortable around them during my recent visits to the high school.
I have enjoyed including their achievements in The Erwin Record. I feel they will make the headlines many more times in the future with their wonderful accomplishments.
They may even make breakthroughs that will put their names in future history books or become a famous poet like E. E. Cummings.
Nevertheless, I feel they have the courage to grow up and become who they really are, which is already something quite remarkable.
I wish the class of 2011 much success. Keep in touch and share your accomplishments with your community and our readers.