By Benjamin Cohn
Weaverville – Hundreds of staff and parents made the trek deep into downtown Asheville last weekend to witness the senior commencement ceremony for North Buncombe High School’s graduating class of 2019. The event was held in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, as it was last year, and was at once respectful and entertaining.
The event featured several musical performances, including the obligatory “Pomp and Circumstance” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Senior Caleb Miles spiced things up when he performed an original song entitled “Come Together,” unrelated to the famous Beatles song bearing the same name.
Samantha Sircey, the school’s principal, spoke first.
“Honored guests, school board members, faculty, parents, friends and seniors. It’s my privilege to welcome you to the commencement program for the North Buncombe High School class of 2019,” she began, responded to by a massive outpouring of applause from the audience.
“[I’d like to] take just a moment to acknowledge your accomplishments. Class of 2019 has been awarded over $1M in scholarships, including an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. The class of 2019 includes students who have not only taken multiple college courses but one who has also completed an associate degree prior to graduating from high school. The class of 2019 includes state-honored musicians, talented actors and artists. The class of 2019 led athletics to a conference title, state-qualifying individuals and teams and a return of The Jug.
“The class of 2019 deserves many accolades, but the one thing about this class that makes me most proud is your collective determination. When you see a wrong, you work to right it. You question, you discuss, you even scream and yell if necessary. You’re activists, advocates and ambassadors. I have no doubt you have the ability to change the world.”
A student speaker, senior Max Destino, gave a brief address as well.
“To the teachers, administrators and, most of all, my fellow classmates: I would like to say for the very last time, ‘good afternoon, North Buncombe High School. Our events for the week [are] graduation and the rest of the week we will be sleeping in,” an apparent reference to the school’s daily announcement format.
His cheeky lines produced much laughter and applause, but his words possessed some gravity, too.
“We have suffered many losses during our time together. We have lost friends and classmates, taken at too young an age for us to comprehend. Coming to school following these losses was heartbreaking. The tears, the confusion, the anger and sadness are hard to handle on your own. However, through those terrible times we’ve had each other to lean on. You were there for each other. You came together to lift each other up when we needed it the most.”
Destino’s comments were followed by an ethereal, tonally-beautiful arrangement of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” performed by some of the school’s most talented vocalists, Olivia Ballard, Brianna Brewer, Laney Dillingham, Kailey Edmonds, Briana Knapp, Hailey Rumbough and Hannah Wingard.
The program eventually saw the candidates for graduation step up to one side of the stage, walk across and receive their diplomas and then walk off the other side into their futures. Congratulations and best wishes BlackHawks!