Henderson grads have their day
By Kathy Chaffin
Before transferring to Henderson Independent High School a year and a half ago, Jeremy Little said his grades were so low he didn’t think there was any way he would be graduating this year.
His grades weren’t the only reason Little’s father told him he was going to Henderson. He had also gotten in trouble for fighting.
Little, who gave the Student’s Perspective address at Henderson’s graduation ceremony Thursday afternoon in Keppel Auditorium, said he had heard that only bad students went to Henderson and that the staff could not care less about them.
“When I got there, I found out that was totally opposite,” he said.
It’s not just bad students who go to Henderson, he said, “and the teachers, they care more than anything.”
Little, one of 41 seniors awarded diplomas, said, “Look what Henderson Independent High School has done for me.”
He credited his graduation to God, the Henderson staff, his father and the rest of his family and friends. If it wasn’t for God and the benefits he has bestowed on his life, he said he wouldn’t have been there Thursday.
The staff has “been a blessing in my life,” he said. “Also, I want to thank my father for sending me to Henderson Independent High School.”
Finally, Little said he was grateful to family and friends for helping him to become “a proud graduate of Henderson Independent High School.”
He plans to study engineering in college.
Salutatorian Amber Kairos also spoke at the graduation, saying she had arrived at the independent high school with no confidence and no idea of what she wanted to do with her life.
For students whose grades may be slipping to the point that they think they can never catch up, Kairos said they are “probably wrong.”
“The teachers at Henderson can help you,” she said, adding that they do it while honoring the students’ individuality.
“I’m so proud of each and every one of you here,” Kairos said, “and wish you the best of luck in your future and great success in your careers.”
Principal Ken Sherrill announced the creation of the Robert M. Pulliam Leadership Award in honor of the late principal. Pulliam, who died last Sept. 28 after a long battle with cancer, served as Henderson’s principal from 2000 through 2007.
Sherrill described Pulliam as a strong leader, an advocate for students and someone who could do “what others thought impossible.”
The recipient of the first annual Robert M. Pulliam Leadership Award was announced by his son, Jarmichael Harris. The definition of leadership, he said, “is in one word, ‘influence.’ ”
Harris said the recipient ó graduate Diera Shamese Mathis ó was chosen because of her influence on peers as well as the school’s faculty and staff.
“The staff of Henderson is so proud of Diera and wish her well in her future endeavors,” he said. “Diera will surely be flying on the wings of success.”
Mathis is planning to enter the Armed Services.
When asked about the award after the ceremony, Diera said she felt honored to receive the award named after her late principal, who she remembers as being an humble man. “He had told me I was one of the leaders,” she said, “and that I wasn’t a follower.”
Javan Finger was also one of the 29 students to receive their diplomas Thursday (another 12 were awarded in absentia). He plans to study business management at Winston-Salem State University.
“I want to be a bail bondsman,” he said, “and I want to own my own business.”
Assistant Principal Rodney Smith read the names of graduates while diplomas were awarded by Sherrill and counselors A.T. Pearson and Ruby Steele.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom declared the seniors 2008 graduates of Henderson Independent High School.