It was a time for reflecting on past accomplishments with pride and looking to the future with a mixture of excitement and anxiety as 91 Mathews High School seniors became graduates during Saturday afternoon’s 75th annual commencement exercises.
Parents, family members and loved ones packed the school’s Harry M. Ward Auditorium to watch the ceremony, while others filled the nearby gymnasium to view the program via closed-circuit TV.
Senior class president Paul Burnette, the first of the three students to address the crowd, made sure to thank those responsible for getting him and his fellow graduates to this point.
“I know we could not have done it without the support and love of our parents, teachers and friends,” he said. “I’m pretty sure my mom holds the record for most e-mails sent to teachers in a year … especially to Mr. Seidl.
“I’m so proud to be president of this wonderful class. When it comes to school spirit, no other class compares—from three-time spirit stick winners to our student section being known all around the region.” He pointed to the Devils’ competitive success, from two-time state volleyball champions and the school’s state runner-up Scholastic Bowl team to the senior boys’ four winning gold at the Stotesbury regatta.
As he continued to rattle off the successes of his classmates, Burnette said (tongue firmly planted in cheek) that “one of our greatest accomplishments as a class, I think, is being able to quote every episode of SpongeBob ever made.”
Burnette presented the senior class gift to the school, a donation of $750 toward the Eagle Scout project of rising MHS senior Josiah Earnhardt, who is currently renovating the cafeteria courtyard. “It is our hope that many generations of students will be able to sit together, laugh together, quickly finish homework together and make memories together in a beautiful space designed by one of our own,” he said.