Webb graduates celebrate 50 years of memories, Class of 2014

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 11:14 PM

OXFORD — On the 50th anniversary of J.F. Webb High School’s first graduation, Zachary Watkins pulled out his phone and captured a selfie with his 200 classmates behind him.

“That’s Instagram material,” said Watkins, the 2014 valedictorian of J.F. Webb High School of Health and Life Sciences who plans to attend North Carolina State University.

A total of 201 students graduated Saturday, including 128 from J.F. Webb High School and 73 from the School of Heath and Life Sciences

Watkins' tone became serious when he posed the age-old question: “What is the meaning to life?”

“Does something have to be purposeful to be practical?” he said. “Does something have to have meaning to have significance? I believe that although we cannot know the true purpose of life, we can embrace the fact that we are significant and that we can practically apply our individual significance as we live out this mystery of life. “

District Attorney Sam Currin III, who graduated from J.F. Webb in 1964, congratulated students on their achievements.

Twelve graduates qualified for the North Carolina Scholars Program, and 36 were named 2013-’14 students of merit for earning at least a 3.56 grade point average.

Students were recognized for excelling in academic areas, the arts and music.

One Health and Life Sciences student, Patrick Mason, was acknowledged for never having missed a single day in his entire school career.

Webb salutatorian Kendall Clayborne told her classmates to keep looking toward the future.

“As we move forward, I encourage all of you to take advantage of every opportunity you can,” she said.

The Health and Life Sciences salutatorian Gabrielle Parker advised her audience to live passionately.

“Whatever path you choose, make it memorable,” she said.

In his address, Webb valedictorian Clayton Burrus noted his class pushed hard to have the graduation in the football stadium so more friends and relatives could attend.

“And I wondered why is it so important that everyone needs to be here?” said Burrus, who plans to attend George Tech University and study aerospace engineering. “That is because hearing your name called and stepping across this stage is more than just scores on a final exam, more than the report cards we got every quarter, every year. It’s much more than that.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.