Hallmon Hughes charged her fellow 2018 Watauga High School/Watauga Innovation Academy graduates with the goal of making an impact.

Hughes addressed the class of approximately 330 students as the senior class president and valedictorian at the June 9 graduation. She tasked her classmates with making an impact on the world around them by breaking the status quo, continuing to learn, dreaming big and continuing on after failures by celebrating and valuing the victories.

“Every impact matters, no matter how big or how small,” Hughes said. “Although your time to impact Watauga is coming to a close, your time to impact the rest of the world is approaching. This is not the end. This is the beginning.”

Friends, family and Watauga County Schools faculty poured into the Holmes Convocation Center for the 52nd class of WHS students and second official class of WIA students.

Of the class of 2018, 73 students graduated from WIA, 183 students earned a total of 801 college credit hours and 33 graduates obtained their high school diploma as well as a community college certificate.

Music for the event was provided by the Watauga High School band and orchestra. The presentation of the colors at the beginning of the ceremony was conducted by the high school’s Marine Corps JROTC Honor Guard.

Sitting in front of the students on a table was a picture of their late classmate, Brandon Aldridge. Aldridge died in 2016 at the age of 16.

“I hope you will live a life that will honor this classmate, and that you will take him and our other friends and loved ones with you in your hearts, wherever you go and whatever you do, to make our world a better place for everyone,” said Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott.

Student Body President Mary Lovins recalled sitting at Rough Ridge and watching the sunrise with friends. She told her classmates that a sunrise brings the hope of a new day, and as the sun makes its daily cycle people are reminded of an ending as the sun sets.

“Today we get to see the sun set on our days at Watauga High School, but we also get to see the sun rise on a new beginning and new opportunities,” Lovins said.

The class was also addressed by salutatorian Jonathan Price St. Clair, who spoke about striving for excellence by making it a habit. Other comments were made by Board of Education Chairman Ron Henries, Watagua High School Principal Chris Blanton and Elliott.

“Whatever the next step is for you, I trust the education you received has prepared you for success,” Blanton said. “As you leave us today, I hope that wherever your journey takes you, it will eventually bring you home again to Watauga High School.”

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