Graduation 2018

by Charlie Koenig - Posted on Jun 13, 2018 - 04:31 PM

Photo: Former Mathews High School teacher Phillip Sanderson, who is now a member of the faculty at the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, may have missed one milestone in his daughter’s life this week when Chloe Sanderson played last Thursday for the state singles title in tennis, but there was no way he was about to miss a second as she graduated on Saturday from MHS and received the school’s General Excellence Award. The elder Sanderson was grading papers in Kansas City last Thursday, keeping one eye surreptitiously on his phone for updates as his daughter finished her high school tennis career as  the state runner up in Class 1 singles play. The two embrace here in the school’s gymnasium after the Saturday morning graduation. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Former Mathews High School teacher Phillip Sanderson, who is now a member of the faculty at the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, may have missed one milestone in his daughter’s life this week when Chloe Sanderson played last Thursday for the state singles title in tennis, but there was no way he was about to miss a second as she graduated on Saturday from MHS and received the school’s General Excellence Award. The elder Sanderson was grading papers in Kansas City last Thursday, keeping one eye surreptitiously on his phone for updates as his daughter finished her high school tennis career as the state runner up in Class 1 singles play. The two embrace here in the school’s gymnasium after the Saturday morning graduation. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Photo: Steve Casper, Mathews High School’s senior class sponsor, snaps a photo of soon-to-be-graduates Noah Brown, William Craven, Todd Britt and Nicholas Edwards, from left, as the students waited in the school’s cafeteria before marching into the Harry M. Ward Auditorium on Saturday morning. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Steve Casper, Mathews High School’s senior class sponsor, snaps a photo of soon-to-be-graduates Noah Brown, William Craven, Todd Britt and Nicholas Edwards, from left, as the students waited in the school’s cafeteria before marching into the Harry M. Ward Auditorium on Saturday morning. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Photo: Mathews School Board member Jeanice Sadler sneaked up on stage to give her son Caleb Sadler a hug after he received his diploma. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Mathews School Board member Jeanice Sadler sneaked up on stage to give her son Caleb Sadler a hug after he received his diploma. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Photo: Mathews High School seniors Yolanda Fells, Kierra Billups and Sydney Dobson, from left, chat with one another in the school’s cafeteria as they wait for Saturday’s commencement exercises to start. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Mathews High School seniors Yolanda Fells, Kierra Billups and Sydney Dobson, from left, chat with one another in the school’s cafeteria as they wait for Saturday’s commencement exercises to start. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Photo: Mathews High School senior Andie Schlosshan helps Josh Jeffers get his graduation cap straight prior to Saturday’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Mathews High School senior Andie Schlosshan helps Josh Jeffers get his graduation cap straight prior to Saturday’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Photo: James Erik Raha was one of 90 Mathews High School students to receive diplomas Saturday from MHS principal Alexis Foster. Photo by Charlie Koenig

James Erik Raha was one of 90 Mathews High School students to receive diplomas Saturday from MHS principal Alexis Foster. Photo by Charlie Koenig

This year’s Mathews High School valedictorian related the important life lesson of leaving the world a better place than you found it while the salutatorian, a long-distance runner, equated her four years of high school to the legs of a race during Saturday’s commencement exercises.

Ninety MHS seniors received their diplomas during the morning’s graduation ceremony. Family and friends packed the school’s Harry M. Ward Auditorium to share in the graduates’ joy and celebrate their accomplishments. Those without tickets watched the ceremony on closed-circuit television in the gymnasium.

At the start of the program, class president Anne Stewart welcomed everyone and announced this year’s senior class gift to MHS—a water bottle filling station that will provide filtered water to the students and staff.

Salutatorian

Assistant principal Lee Anne Bray introduced this year’s salutatorian Reilly Price, who will be attending the University of Virginia where she will study neuroscience. Among her accomplishments at MHS was serving as captain of the school’s cross country team, and winning all-district and all-region honors in the sport.

It was from this sport, and her other running experiences, that she drew the inspiration for her speech. Price had recently had the opportunity to run a half-marathon for the first time, which she described as “a 13.1-mile emotional roller coaster, much like high school.”

Freshman year of high school she likened to the first three miles of the half-marathon. “At the starting line, people are crowding around in different groups, and it is difficult to find a place to stand,” she said. “The hallways of MHS feel like this when you’re a freshman.

“You are so nervous when you start out, and you are absolutely convinced you will fail and not finish,” Price continued. “But after three miles, you get more comfortable and you start to develop a rhythm.”

Coming to MHS after having gone to Ware Academy for 11 years, Price said, she was terrified about the thought of purchasing lunch in a cafeteria.

Sophomore year, she said, is like miles 4 through 6. “At that point in the race, you are so in the zone that everything else gets tuned out,” she said. “At the same time, you feel comfortable because you know where you fit in the race. Sophomore year, we feel pretty good. The coursework isn’t too strenuous, and stress about the future hasn’t set in yet.”

Miles 7-10 are like junior year, she said. “Things are starting to get challenging, and it feels like the finish line will never come,” Price said. “You are simultaneously exhausted from the previous miles and stressed about the upcoming ones. No one is kidding when they say that junior year is the toughest year.

“Senior year is just like the last three miles,” she added. “Everyone is just looking forward to being finished and being able to move on to the next thing.

“Anyone who has run a race will tell you that in the final strides up to the finish line, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter what happened in the previous miles; all of that is in the past. All that counts is finishing strong.”

Price and her fellow graduates are at the finish line. “It doesn’t matter what happened in the last four years,” she said. “We cannot change the past. But we can make the best of the future. Let’s cross this finish line with our heads held high.”

General Excellence Award

Following Price’s speech, principal Alexis Foster presented the General Excellence Award. The award is given for high academics, extracurricular involvement, leadership, citizenship and a cooperative attitude.  This year’s recipient is Chloe Sanderson, the daughter of Phillip and Susan Sanderson of Mathews.

Valedictorian

Foster then presented this year’s valedictorian, Ashley Shackelford. Shackelford, who will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall and majoring in biology, recounted a rule that she picked up in Mr. Sanderson’s calculus classroom. “As we have grown up, there are many rules that we have been taught, like treat others as you want to be treated, honesty is the best policy, etc. However, there is one that we have all learned that I think we often overlook and have never realized the deeper meaning of it,” she said.

In one of my final calculus classes, my teacher gave us a list of ‘Sanderson’s Ten Rules to Live By,’ and one of them, for some reason resonated with me,” Shackelford said. “He called it the Boy Scout Rule.

“Whenever we went on a field trip or if you were a Boy or Girl Scout going camping, you probably heard, ‘do not leave your trash and if you see trash—even if it isn’t yours—pick it up. Leave this place better than how you found it.’ … That one phrase applies to so much more than picking up trash.

“And this was Mr. Sanderson’s rule, ‘Leave life better than how you found it.’ It is up to you to interpret how you wish and how it connects to you,” she continued. 

“My favorite interpretation is leave the people you meet better than how you found them. Find a way to positively impact someone’s life, or even just their day,” Shackelford said.  “As we leave high school and go into college, trade school, military or straight into the workforce, make it a goal to make something better than what it currently is,” she urged her fellow graduates.