More than 425 students graduated from Ponte Vedra High School last week at the school’s commencement ceremony held at the UNF Arena.
Before receiving their diplomas, students listened to remarks from district administrators and school and class leaders, including Principal Steve McCormick, who was recently named the new principal of Creekside High School.
“As you move forward today, I challenge you to stay humble and hungry but more importantly to grow as a person each and every day with integrity and character,” he said at the May 24 ceremony.
St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson asked the Class of 2017 to take opportunities to make life better for other people and reminded the students to hold tight to their passions. The superintendent advised them to go “all out” in life, while also warning them not to fear rejections and failures because those experiences will only serve as lessons for them to grow.
District 4 School Board Member Kelly Barrera recognized the recent 100th birthday of Dr. Fran Kinne, Jacksonville University’s chancellor emeritus and past president. She said Kinne has lived each day of her life with a contagiously positive attitude, in which she has invested in and loved her work, herself, her family and her community. Barrera told the students her hope for them is that they live their lives in a similar manner.
Salutatorian Jifu Li, who is headed to the University of California at Berkeley, reflected on each year of high school with a number of anecdotes, then charged his classmates to pursue their dreams.
“I hope everyone sets sail into the new horizon where you don’t count the days, rather you make the days count,” said Li.
Valedictorian Adam Snowden closed the ceremony with a bang by rapping about the Class of 2017’s journey to this point. Before doing so, the future Duke University student discussed the cliques that often characterize high school and the importance of looking beyond labels.
“Moving forward, we should all try to look outside these simple labels and really get to know people,” he said. “You may find you have a lot more in common with someone than you might think and connect on another level.”