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North Rowan High School 2017 graduation

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North Rowan High School: There were 127 students who graduated during Saturday’s commencement ceremony at North Rowan High.

The administrators took a brief moment to pause the ceremony after someone in the audience was in distress and emergency responders worked to resuscitate them. A moment of silence and prayer were offered for the family as EMS crews ushered them to a waiting ambulance.

Salutatorian Brianna White said she liked to think of the Class of 2017 as the chosen class. She said they were, “chosen to not be a stereotype. Chosen to be successful. Chosen to achieve. Chosen to survive — Henderson Lentz. Chosen to help people survive.”

In 2015, Lentz was attending a basketball camp at Catawba College when he collapsed. His heart stopped and his coaches and the staff all worked to revive him. An off-duty paramedic used an Automated External Defibrillator to bring him back. Lentz has since raised funds to purchase another AED for North Rowan.

“These things happen because someone chose you or you chose yourself. Someone knew you would be great at something and you believed it. You knew you would be great at something, so you achieved it. You chose to be great. So continue your greatness,” White said.

“We can add to North’s legacy. Whether it’s for sports, academics, or fighting for the country. Greatness starts within and you already have a head start,” she said.

White imparted some last words of encouragement.

“I know it seems hard sometimes, but remember one thing — through every dark night there’s a bright day after that. So no matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out and keep your head up….and handle it.”

Valedictorian Mai Xe Vang thanked teachers and her parents for their support and words of encouragement.

“So much has changed since we set foot in our first class in elementary school … just as everyone promised us, the time flew by,” she said.

Vang recalled the experiences they all had in school from football games to their first class during freshman year.

Vang closed with a quote from Dr. Seuss, who said, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

“When I look back at the memories that we’ve created and shared over the past few years, I should be smiling forever. Now, we’re all going to separate and live our own lives, but I’m happy to know that we will forever be connected with the memories of all the times we’ve had together,” she said.

Principal Meredith Williams also recognized North Rowan’s first four African-American graduates from the class of 1967, who graduated two years before integration. The students honored Amanda Ellen Griffin, Emory Jones, Elaine McKee Morgan and Linda Sturdivant. Both Griffin and Jones were in attendance.

— Shavonne Walker

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