The Palestine High School Class of 2006 marked the conclusion of their lives in public education and the beginning of the next stage of life during graduation ceremonies Friday at Wildcat Stadium.

After a welcome from graduate and student council vice president Anjelica Rashe’ Deckard and the National Anthem, the PHS choir presented the song “Only Hope.”

Palestine Independent School District President Michael Bennett then recognized PISD trustees, staff, and retirees, followed by the first graduate speech — the Faculty Advisory Choice Address by graduate John Edwin Gold.

Gold’s speech applied a common camping rule of thumb — “leave the site better than you found it” — to the role each graduate should play when going out into the world of adulthood.

“We all should strive to leave the world better off than we found it,” he said. “The first way to do that is to give more of ourselves and take less from others.”

Gold pointed to influences in his own life — deceased classmate Josh Webb, his mother and Jesus Christ — as prime examples of those who gave without taking from the world.

“Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of that,” Gold said. “He came to the world not to be served but to serve others.”

The second and final ways to make a difference in the world, Gold said, is to “make ourselves better by doing what is right and good” and to “be concerned with the welfare of others.”

During the third-highest ranking student’s address, graduate Jordyn Elizabeth Black talked to her classmates about using their fears to make them brave.

“Fear is something that often holds us back,” Black began. “But fear can also be our greatest motivation for success.

“We face many circumstances when we are afraid and can be overwhelmed by the decisions we must make,” she continued. “But we must embrace change and allow ourselves to dream.

“Anyone can dream, but it takes courage to bring those dreams beyond our imaginations,” Black said. “This is our beginning.”

Black’s speech was followed by the Salutatorian address from William Barron Moore, who encouraged fellow graduates to celebrate their new independence.

“Today is the day that society looks to us to decide our futures,” Moore began. “I think we are a better generation — one that will face the difficulties and take control of our destinies.

“We must live our lives in a way that we will be able to achieve the impossible.”

Valedictorian Sheala An Martin shared with classmates the vast difference between reputation and character, and how important character remains after graduation.

“Character is what we really are, while reputation is what others see that you are,” Martin said. “During our time here we have faced both good times and challenges, but let us not forget the importance of character.

“When we leave here we will leave our reputations behind,” she said. “But our character will go with us.

“Look to yourself and you will find character.”

PHS Principal Richard Scoggin presented the Class of 2006 for certification by PISD Superintendent Jerry Mayo, and the class was accepted for graduation by Bennett.

Following the presentation of diplomas, senior class president and graduate Megan Elise Roe led the class in the traditional turning of the tassels and graduate Marilyn Nohelia Chicas presented the closing speech to classmates.

The ceremonies were concluded with the singing of the school song, “Our Palestine.”

Following the ceremony, the families of Victoria Sharell Patterson and Joshua Webb — two members of the Class of 2006 who passed away during their time at PHS — were presented with a gift from the graduating class.

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