By Julia Jones, Correspondent
In a heartfelt and personal ceremony, Belton New Tech High School celebrated the accomplishments of the class of 2017 and the future that each student will take part in.
One hundred and sixteen students graduated from New Tech on Thursday, June 1 at the Bell County Expo Center. Principal Jill Ross described the graduating class as unique and collaborative.
“This group of seniors is one of the funniest groups I think I’ve ever been around. They’re a really neat group,” Ross said. “These kids know how to think independently, how to be creative, how to express themselves.”
The ceremony included a welcome from Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon, a video message from Maj. Gen. Paul Funk of Fort Hood, and speeches from students and teachers. Valedictorian Morgan Callin shared a list of the top 10 things she learned in high school, including straightforward advice–to always walk on the right side of the hallway–and ideas that apply to the future–make the most of every moment. She concluded her speech with some words of encouragement to her classmates.
“We are all capable of great things, and the world is just waiting for us to do them,” Callin said.
Salutatorian Jessica Dickson spoke about finding some old to-do lists in her notebooks, and what they symbolized to her.
“These checklists led me to realize that each small thing we cross off is something that, no matter how trivial, has changed our lives in some way,” Dickson said. “At New Tech we were given projects with many individual pieces that allowed us to express our ideas. We were encouraged to pursue our academic passions, collaborate with others and improve our community.”
Following the students’ speeches, Stephen Jehl, a departing physics teacher and one of the school’s founding teachers, spoke to the graduates about how New Tech has prepared them for life after high school.
“We simply wanted to create an environment where you could learn to innovate and lead. By allowing you to have more freedom, opening up your learning to broader topics, and simply involving you in decisions we believed you would reach graduation day better prepared for leadership,” Jehl said.
He then went on to relate the concept of time to an arrow in that it is constantly moving forward, but the course of the future can be changed by events in the present.
“The you that arrives at any moment in time in the future can only be prepared by the experiences and lessons that you provide in advance,” Jehl said. “I hope that you consider this as you plan your daily trip through time. You get to determine today your level of preparation for tomorrow.”
According to salutatorian Jessica Dickson, New Tech has prepared her for the future.
“We’ve worked so hard, everybody’s worked hard. We’ve just been doing so much for so many years, all the projects and everything, and it’s finally all coming together,” Dickson said.
Jehl reminded the graduating class that their arrows of time can be measured with any units they choose.
“You could choose to measure your arrow in first dates, first kisses, times that you fall in love,” Jehl said. “You could choose sunsets, or even better sunrises over your favorite places. You could choose your units as mornings you wake up in a brand new city or times you hear your children laugh. You can choose times that you tell your parents you love them, times that you hug a friend or times that you share your favorite thing with people you care about.”