‘Journey is far from over’ — Rowan County Early College High School graduates 61
CHINA GROVE — Graduation is a milestone for any high school student, and any college student.
Most members of the second graduating class of Rowan County Early College High School took the stage Friday having already graduated from college.
Rowan-Salisbury School System Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom congratulated them on the many milestones they had achieved.
Last Saturday, many of them received associate’s degrees from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College — the payoff for four years of accelerated college work.
Cindy Misenheimer, principal, told the Post that 56 of the 61 graduates earned associate of arts or associate of science degrees.
And she shared some remarkable numbers with parents and families during her address, statistics that show the breadth and depth of those students’ accomplishments.
“Six are first in their families to graduate from high school,” Misenheimer said.
The class of 2013 earned a total of 4,311 college credits — courses that would have cost them $297,459 to take, had they paid out of pocket instead of taking them as part of the curriculum.
And, Misenheimer said, as of Friday, members of the class had been awarded $515,600 in scholarships so far.
She encouraged her graduates to remember the lessons she’s taught them, including some “Misenheimer-isms” that she made part of a last-minute pop quiz.
“If college educations were easy to get?” Misenheimer asked from the podium.
“Everybody would have one!” the graduates chorused back.
“Always remember,” Misenheimer said in closing, “you will be happiest in your lives if you remember that your lives are meant to be lived in service to others.”
Zachary Bare, 18, will begin his career in service to his country.
He’s entering the U.S. Air Force in July. “I’m proud of it,” Bare said. “I’m excited to move on with my career, but sad to go our separate ways.”
Following his military service, Bare said he hopes to continue his career in federal law enforcement.
Jeremy Barragan, who’s been accepted to Oklahoma State University, will enter college as a junior.
Barragan, 18, plans to major in graphic design.
As he stood awaiting commencement, Barragan said he would miss the teachers who’ve inspired him.
In her address to classmates and families, salutatorian Whitney Hardison recalled the path she and fellow graduates have taken.
They started off in an environment that was slightly overwhelming, she said, but went on to be successful.
She also recalled class trips and times spent with classmates on the campus of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
“Those are the memories I’ll carry with me throughout the rest of my life,” Hardison said.
Valedictorian Dylan Bruney shared an image from Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho’s book “The Alchemist,” in which a young man follows a dream – literally – from Spain to Egypt in search of a treasure.
“His journey does not lead him to riches, but to a long and tiring quest and what seems like a waste,” Bruney said.
Likewise, he said that those who graduated with him had overcome the possible distractions of their own lives – money troubles, relationships, “or just getting through six years of school in a compressed schedule.”
There were also times, Bruney said, “when your dream, our dream, was nothing more than a pipe dream.”
But he praised them for not being “tempted to become another sheep in the herd.”
“You are at graduation,” Bruney said. “However, don’t you dare get a big ego. Your journey, our journey, is far from over.”
For those 61 high school graduates, most of whom are already college graduates, it’s a journey that may take them further, and to greater heights, for all the effort they’ve already expended.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 705-797-4244.