Enterprise Ledger - June 10, 2011
Wildcat alumni, students reflect on new setting
By Kylie Akins
For the first time since 2007, “disaster” was not the word on everyone’s mind at Thursday’s Enterprise High School graduation.
It was “new.”
The new school, new stadium and new traditions dominated conversations in the crowd.
Though the reason for the new stadium – a tornado – was not forgotten, the idea of a fresh start resonated with alumni, parents, faculty and students.
“I’m very, very excited about the new stadium for our first graduation,” said Beverley Thompson, an EHS English teacher. “The students are excited to take ownership with this important ceremony. It’s beautiful. It’s just good to be home.”
While some conversations focused on the “new,” some also focused on “tradition.”
As alumni came to watch family and friends graduate, they couldn’t help but think of their own graduation ceremonies in Bates Memorial Stadium, or “The Hole.”
“I’m happy that the kids get a chance to start their own legacy, their own footprints,” said Charlese Rodgers, a 2007 EHS alumnus. “I love the stadium. It’s a surreal moment because it’s not ‘The Hole’ that we know, but it’s a happy moment.”
Stephanie Bailey Faulk, a 1998 EHS alumna, said she thinks the rich history of the previous stadium will be remade by future EHS classes in the new stadium.
“I think it’s exciting that this class has started new memories here,” Faulk said. “I’m sure 50 years down the road, there won’t be an issue; all of their memories will be here, just like all of ours are over there.”
The Thursday night ceremony returned to a familiar format with the valedictorians addressing their fellow classmates. In recent years, special speakers such as former first lady Laura Bush addressed the graduates.
As thoughts turned to the students on the field – the first EHS class to graduate from the new Wildcat Stadium – another word emerged: legacy.
EHS faculty recognized the importance of the first graduation ceremony in Wildcat Stadium as a step toward living on after the school’s tragic past.
“I think it’s definitely a step to move forward and move on, and I think the students are ready to do that,” Thompson said. “They’ve certainly not forgotten. We’ll always remember. But we’ve rebuilt, and now it’s time to move on.”
Several of Thursday night’s graduates said they were excited and honored to be a part of a significant “first” in the new building’s history.
“I think we’ve paved the way for future generations to come in this stadium,” graduate Chris Delacruz said. “It’s a great honor to say that I was in the first class to graduate out of the new building and new stadium. This stadium is going to be making history. I mean, we’ve already made history tonight, and others will continue to make history in the future. I’m curious to see what happens.”
Graduate Taylor Cooper said she acknowledged that what happened in the school’s past was difficult, but she remains hopeful about its future.
“It’s overwhelming, but just to know that I’ve overcome everything that has happened in the past and I’ve made it this far just overwhelms me with joy,” Cooper said. “There is now room for a new legacy and new traditions. The school will carry on.”
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