By Jonathan E. Coleman
The parking lot at Central Cabarrus High School was peppered with cars Friday morning, presumably those of teachers cleaning out their classrooms before the summer break.
Further north on N.C. 49, the highway was its own parking lot, with a line of cars winding toward the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center for the commencement exercises of Central’s 42nd graduating class.
Viking graduates didn’t have to wait long for exercises to begin — the first of four Cabarrus County schools to hold exercises at the arena Friday.
Some families jockeyed for the best seats, hopeful to catch a glimpse of their graduate-to-be. Others nervously checked their camera batteries as they snapped photos, eager to capture the special moment.
Picking out specific graduates proved difficult in the sea of green caps and gowns. But the graduates are forever united by far more than their graduation day attire, said graduate Maegan Fairchild.
“The best thing about graduation, the best thing about Central is the delicate interplay of everyone sitting here,” she said. “We have shared what they call the best years of our lives, so far. We share memories that are humorous. We share memories that are serious.”
That unity, Fairchild said, should give the class great confidence as members leave the graduation and go their separate ways, setting out on the next chapter of their lives.
“No matter how excited or nervous we are for the future, we should know this: we are ready,” Fairchild told her classmates. “Each of us can surmount any obstacle we face. We don’t have to face the world alone. However different we may be, we come together today as one class.”
And that one class holds a special place in the heart of principal Robert Marshall, who first came to Central as an assistant principal, overseeing the sophomore class. That class sat before him Saturday at the end of their high school career.
“It’s been wonderful to watch everyone grow and develop,” Marshall said. “It’s my sincere wish that you find causes to be passionate about. You need to be mindful that the only failure you risk is not making the effort to serve others.”
The day’s celebration was marked with a somber moment as students remembered Robert “Chris” Tizon, who died in March. After the 370 Central Cabarrus graduates were honored with diplomas, Tizon’s name was read, drawing cheers from the crowd.
As the ceremony drew to a close, senior class president Brittany Sides offered her classmates a message of hope for the future.
“This commencement does not signify the end,” she said, “but rather the beginning of the rest of our lives. Tomorrow is ours.”
• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at 704-789-9105.