Southern Vance grads thank those who helped

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 05:17 PM

The big day arrived too quickly for some graduates of Southern Vance High School this year.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Mary Key Mendoza said. “It’s like four years have gone by so fast without you even knowing it. I think later it will hit me that I finally graduated, but I don’t really believe it right now.”

Some 148 graduates received diplomas Saturday at the school’s stadium-packed commencement ceremony.

Parents jumped from their seats and cheered with the sight and mention of their children.

Angela Fields, parent of graduate Dekedrick Fields, said she couldn’t help it. Her son was the fifth of seven children and the first to go to a four-year college, North Carolina Central University.

“He had a great guidance counselor that took the stressful weight off us of getting his applications done,” she said. “I’m just willing and ready for him to go.”

Kallah Hester said graduation was a huge victory for her, as well. She has battled alopecia — a disease preventing hair growth — since she was 3 years old.

“I feel like I’ve worked my hardest to get to where I am, and I am proud of my graduation,” she said.

Graduates were given a dozen roses during the ceremony and challenged to remember their daunting high school days and the people who helped them along the way.

Most gave them to teachers, family and friends they felt were influential to their success.

Pamela Alston, sister of graduate Herman Alston, said she was honored to receive her brother’s rose for supporting him through high school.

“I am very proud,” she said. “It’s been a long, hard struggle, but through determination and perseverance he made it.”

Valedictorian Anissa Williams acknowledged the support of her mother in her address.

“The journey at SV was not easy,” she said. “But we all had someone with us along the way, and we should thank them for that today. For me, it was my mom.”

While some said leaving high school made them sad, Allyson Dunn said she would not miss it at all.

“It was rough getting here, trying to manage a part-time job and papers at the same time,” she said. “High school is a personal journey that you don’t always want to face, but you have to go through.”

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.