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“The world is now your hallway”: Jesse C. Carson grads celebrate a new chapter

By Andie Foley
andie.foley@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — As student speakers addressed their 258 fellow graduates during Jesse C. Carson High School’s commencement exercises Saturday, they shared a central message: the school was “simply the best.”

Not just that, said student speaker Joshua Hunter. According to him, Carson was “the greatest school there is, in the greatest country there is, in the greatest solar system there is, in the greatest galaxy there is.”

His enthusiasm was mirrored by three additional speakers during the ceremony. Each would praise the student population for its diversity and talent, calling the class one of thespians, musicians, leaders, scholars and athletes.

These speakers embodied just as wide an array of personality types and talents, with words that provided encouragement, provoked deep thought or even inspired a few giggles.

Gabrielle Jolly, president of the student body, began by calling the high school experience a “wild ride.”

“Let’s think about it. We’ve been with each other since we were fourteen, many of us even longer than that,” she said. “I think we need to give some thanks to our fellow classmates who still chose to be our friend despite the chunky, brace-faced phase we all experienced.”

Jolly then reflected on the accomplishments of the student body throughout the year, including the athletic department’s eight championships and multitude of all-county and all-conference athletes. She also highlighted this year’s three theatre shows at Carson, one an original written by teachers.

“Whether it’s sports, theatre, band, chorus, or a wide array of clubs offered here, we made this place our home,” Jolly said.

Senior class president Abigail Smith said that, over the past four years, the class of 2018 had accomplished a lot.

“I’ve had the pleasure of the past four years going to school with a bunch of geniuses,” said Smith. “… You’ve made me all overwhelmingly proud. You have made a lot of people in your life proud.”

Like Jolly, Smith noted the variety of talent among her peers, encouraging them to continue to pursue unity.

“Fight for justice, equality, safety, whatever means most to you,” she said.

Lists continued with student speaker Taylor Wiggins.

“When I think about the class of 2018, I think about social activists, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, writers, photographers, scientists, teachers, leaders and so much more,” she said.

As her fellow students moved onward and into the workforce, Wiggins encouraged her peers to enjoy the journey.

She called graduation the end of a chapter in their lives: the students would no longer be sharing meals in the cafeteria or dressing in orange and blue with teammates.

“The world was now your hallway,” she said. “… You can be anything you want, just don’t be ungrateful.”

Speeches followed a moment of remembrance for student Dylan Wayne Livengood, a senior and Special Olympic swimmer who passed away in December.

With a GPA of 5.1714, Gabrielle Jolly was named salutatorian. Chloe Kirkpatrick was named valedictorian with a GPA of 5.2188.

Students at Carson received a combined $7.3 million in scholarships and were the second-largest graduating class in Rowan County.

Its 258 graduates were fell second to West Rowan’s 261. They were followed by South Rowan’s 229, East’s 222, Salisbury’s 189, North’s 150, Rowan-Cabarrus Early College’s 52, and Henderson Independent’s eight.

Read about commencement ceremonies at East, North, South and West Rowan and Salisbury High (by clicking here / on pages 5-7A).

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