OXFORD – Family and friends traveled through a tornado warning to attend Eaton High School’s commencement, held at Millet Hall in Oxford on Saturday, June 4. The nearly 150 students graduating earned over $1.6 million total in scholarships.
Those students who had already pledged themselves to the military were honored by leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
Valedictorian Jacqueline McCafferty ended her speech by turning her back to the crowd and taking a selfie with her entire class in the background. Before this surprise ending she stated, “I do not believe I am qualified to stand up here and lecture you on life to come, because like most of you I’m 18 years old and I’m ready for anything.”
She still gave advice to her peers, by using Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements.” She began listing the agreements, “The first agreement is to be impeccable with your words, probably the most difficult agreement. It is to always say what you mean so that what you say means more. To quote the author, ‘Avoid using the word against yourself or to gossip about others.’ Basically, try to be your best each day.”
The second agreement, she explained, “is to not take anything personally.” This agreement urges others to take different perspectives into consideration before judgment is passed. Similarly, the third agreement “is to not make assumptions.” To finish her point she brought up the last agreement, “to always do your best. What is intriguing about this agreement is the realization that your best changes with you each day. You cannot give 110 percent each day, because after 10 days you would be left with zero, with nothing to give.”
While McCafferty focused on advice for her peers moving forward, salutatorian Miranda Lee discussed fear of the unknown.
“I’m honored to stand here as the salutatorian of such a talented, intelligent group of people. I guess after we all collectively failed our 10th grade OGTs everyone decided it was time to get it together,” she started her speech, startling a laugh out of the audience.
She went on to thank her best friends, mother, and grandparents with several touching anecdotes.
She then took a nostalgic tone, “I still remember the first day of freshman year. I stood on my front steps smiling at my mom’s camera, wearing pink jeans and carrying my Vera Bradley backpack. Yes, I wore pink jeans on my first day of high school. Embarrassing outfit choices aside, I was excited, and anxious, and also a little scared. I had no idea what to expect. I was awkward, I was still in love with One Direction, and I had no clue how high school worked. Standing here now, that’s kinda how I feel again. Until today I’ve had everything planned to a tee, but this is the beginning of a new chapter.
”I’m sure we’ve been told countless time that we can write our future in any way we want. I’ve even been told that I’m going to change the world someday — that’s kinda an intimidating statement to hear as a 16-year-old. It scared me that somebody else was more sure of my own future than I was. So many times I’ve found myself hesitant of what’s to come, or where to turn next. My goal for the next four years is to let go of this fear. To fearlessly pursue my dreams and aspirations.
“Class of 2016,” she concluded, “Wherever life takes you, I challenge you to be fearless.”
After the ceremony Principal Scott Couch talked about what made this class memorable.
“This is the first group that we did ‘clap outs’ in each building, so we took them to the elementary in their cap and gown,” Couch said. When asked what made the administration decide to bring the future grads to see the young students, he laughed and explained that someone saw a viral video on YouTube. The administration thought it was a good way to include all grade levels at the Eaton Schools into the graduation celebration – elementary to middle school to high school. This ceremony also enabled the young students to see what they were working for.
Couch explained, “Hopefully in 13 years they’ll be receiving their diplomas, walking across stage. We wanted to give those little guys something to shoot for.”