The Teen Appeal

Giving truth to Memphis youth

What does graduation mean to the Central High Seniors?


From left: Kayla Franklin, Chloe Mesler, Autumn White, Cyanna Broughton, Shaina Ross Michael Curtis, Deonna Williams, Kendall Whiteside, Briana Giles, Crystal Bowen, Monique Barksdale, Sydney Harris, Crystan Hawkins                                                                                                                                          Photo by Melissa Berretta

From left: Kayla Franklin, Chloe Mesler, Autumn White, Cyanna Broughton, Shaina Ross
Michael Curtis, Deonna Williams, Kendall Whiteside, Briana Giles, Crystal Bowen, Monique Barksdale, Sydney Harris, Crystan Hawkins
Photo by Melissa Berretta

By Kira Tucker

Central High School

Although his or her imminent graduation will be a different experience for every member of this year’s graduating class, each Central High School senior spoke on similar topics of progression and forward thinking when asked the quintessential question for all graduating seniors: What does graduating high school mean to you?

Some made the analogy between turning pages in a book, like Crystal Bowen, who will be “closing one chapter and opening another.”

Others made the comparison between this transition and taking steps along a path to enlightenment, like Briana Giles, who feels she is “finally moving to the next step in life.”

Charles Spencer Jr. has taken time to reflect.

“I’ve done my best to prepare myself for college and for life,” he said. “I’ve discovered what I’m truly passionate about and what I really want to focus on in life.”

Similarly, Chloe Mesler said that graduating high school means “figuring out who I am, and what I am going to do to make me happy.”

Paris Byrd also recognizes the sense of fulfillment that accompanies such a momentous occasion.

“I’ve met a certain accomplishment,” she said.  “Graduation marks my transition into adulthood.  I’m excited to test my readiness to be an adult and make college the best time of my life.”

Byrd left a final token of advice for incoming upperclassmen.

 “Find something you’re interested in and do the best you can to be the best at it. Delve deeper into your intellectual curiosity, because you’ll be rewarded when preparing for college.”

Byrd urged students to challenge themselves but nevertheless remember to enjoy high school in the process. This is something with which Cyanna Broughton can relate.

 “You have to find that balance,” she said.  “Don’t procrastinate on the ACT or any college decisions.  But also don’t put too much pressure on yourself.”

Likewise, Autumn White left these words of advice to incoming seniors.

 “Study for the ACT, and don’t wait for the last minute.  Begin visiting schools before the second semester of twelfth grade year.”

To White, graduating is a “big accomplishment that sets a basis for the rest of your life.”

Michael Curtis is “finishing the race strong and beginning a new path in life with credentials and qualities necessary to matriculate.”

To prospective students he offers his original Five Factors of Success: Humility, Engagement, Determination, Sacrifice, and Happiness.

Candace Grisham views graduation as a milestone of independence.

 “I get to move on with my life,” she said.  “This is the beginning of something else.”

As far as incoming seniors, Candace advised effort now and leisure later.

“Work hard now so you may not have to in the future,”she said.  “Remember, high school is one part of your life.  Don’t make your highlight your high school career.”

For Madeline Salton graduating means dealing with a major change.

“It’s the end of four years.  It will all be over soon,” Salton said.  “I’m looking forward to the future but caught between wanting to go and stay at the same time.

Crystal Hawkins, however, welcomed the rite of passage and anticipated graduating as the “entrance to another part of your life, past the whole 7 a.m.-2 p.m. lifestyle.”

“Being a senior, in my opinion, is to have conquered every challenge that has been thrown at me for my entire life,” said Jacob Sauls.

He said the best advice he could give is to learn to prioritize time and to “look at the end goal of what you would like out of high school.  Do things that get you one step closer to that goal and make it happen.  Don’t do it for your friends, not for your parents. Just do it for you.”

Conversely, Rodney Livingston feels that “graduating high school is a minor milestone.  The major milestone will be college.”

His prescription for incoming students is simple: “Do your work and don’t fail.  Study, study, study so that you will make good grades.”

Kayla Franklin said, “Graduating high school means to me, completing a very important time in my life where I’ve grown and learned a lot about myself and others.”

She also offered guidance to future students: “Don’t allow peer pressure to dictate who you are.  Do what you want to do, regardless of how others view you.” She recognized the hidden potential in an opportunity like high school.  “It allows you to other things beyond general education, like love, respect, and integrity.”

Shaina Ross gave similar insight on self-expression.

“Be yourself.  Don’t let other people’s lifestyles impact you so much that you change,” Ross said. “This is a big factor of maturing,” she said.  For her, graduating high school is like “completing one long journey but beginning another.”

Kendall Whiteside regards graduation as an “achievement and new beginning.” He wants incoming seniors to stay focused and not to be affected by negative influences.

Maya Hawkins also admonished forthcoming students to “stay focused.” “Keep motivated, and don’t forget about scholarships.”

After all, graduating high school to her is “developing what it takes to be an adult and having responsibility.”

John Synk reminded us that he has yet to graduate but is “jubilantly ecstatic” in his last weeks until the culminating event. He is not sure of the next step but knows the “staircase leads to a different place.”

 Synk added with a smile, “I get to go to college, where I have been begging to go for the past four years.”

 Synk shared his key to academic success. “Be happy!” he said, cautioning peers against the difficulties of achieving success when surrounded by a “cloud of depression.”

Deonna Williams considered graduating to be “such a relief!”  She revealed that she is both excited and anxious for the upcoming phenomenon.  For higher education, she stresses time management.  It is crucial to manage time between schoolwork, scholarships, social life, etc,” Williams said.

Finally, Monique Barksdale deems graduating the “gateway to new opportunities.” She encourages those who will follow to “take education seriously, and always use it to benefit you.

She stands steadfast in the mantra she shared for those to follow: “the things that no one can ever take away are your mind and intellect.”

Ahead of each of the Warriors preparing to meet the next phase of their lifelong metamorphosis lies a big future.




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This entry was posted on May 6, 2014 by in News and tagged , , , .


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