110 Bruins receive diplomas, turn tassels
By Jon Hawley
Saturday, June 9, 2018
CAMDEN — Live a life of service and purpose — even in the face of obscurity and adversity — the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Class of 2018 at Camden County High School told fellow graduates Friday night.
Camden High School’s commencement was held on the school's football field, where family and friends poured out by the hundreds to cheer on the 110 graduates.
The graduates who spoke highlighted the unique, occasionally strange, memories they'll cherish from high school, sentiments very much shared by their math teacher and commencement speaker, Jackie Duncan.
In his valedictory address, Bladen Harnly urged fellow graduates to endure through the adversity they will inevitably encounter. He noted earlier in his speech that President Theodore Roosevelt famously gave a speech in 1912 despite being shot moments before.
“You will fail, you will fall, and you'll be forced to stand again, growing stronger each time,” Harnly said.
Harnly also told classmates that, even if they don't land their dream jobs, they can make a difference by being there for others.
“Perhaps the greatest difference ever made was not read about or heard about,” Harnly said.
Salutatorian Dominic Bulone recounted that he and his fellow graduates learned not only academics at school, but the importance of time management. After getting “eased out of mindless procrastination,” he urged his classmates to make the best use of the rest of their lives.
“Your time is limited,” he said. “Use that time you have helping others.”
Duncan noted she was not only Friday's commencement speaker and a teacher, but a proud parent of graduate as well; her daughter, Jenna, graduated as an honor student and North Carolina Academic Scholar.
Duncan highlighted memorable moments she shared with numerous graduates, many of whom she praised for their personal growth over the years.
Others, she also teased a little for causing the occasional mischief.
“Yaheese, I can't name them all, but I forgive you,” Duncan said to laughs.
The student she referenced, Yaheese Lynch-Crute, said minutes before the ceremony that he was excited to graduate, and greatly enjoyed sports at Camden. He said he's enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he plans to work in unit supply.
Standing near Lynch-Crute in the lineup was Lauryn McCoy, who shared in the excitement and said the Class of 2018 was “awesome” and entertaining. She plans to enroll in the nursing program at College of The Albemarle and become a travel nurse, she said.
Another happy graduate, Tyree Brooks, said he will always remember his classmates, describing them as a tight-knit group.
“They were always there for everyone,” he said.
Riley Ayers and Ethan Badgley were, in some ways, still processing the milestone of graduation.
“Well, it's over,” Ayers said in the lineup Friday, adding she plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for nursing.
Badgley quipped he's not looking forward to paying taxes, noting he plans to work on a tugboat in Baltimore.
Ayers said she'll always remember Spirit Week from high school, while Badgley said sports would always stick with him.
Camden High School Principal Billie Berry told graduates he was “humbled and honored” to have been their principal, and urged them to pursue even dreams that seem unrealistic. In the face of obstacles, graduates should focus on their passion and personal strengths, he said.
Berry also recounted amusing moments with students, including having to fish something out of a dumpster just minutes before a trash truck picked it up.
Berry said prior to Friday’s ceremony that the Class of 2018, while about the same size as prior classes, drew more than $1.6 million in scholarships, or “more than any class in my eight years as principal.”
He also noted Harnly, Bulone and Matt Djigounian are entering the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, while Emily Broyles, Dat Tran and Shelby Jones are receiving major scholarships to attend different universities.