Dreams, failures, and endless possibilities was the message that speakers at the 2017 Vilonia graduation ceremonies held at 10 a.m., Saturday, at UCA’s Farris Hall.
Dressed in a red cap and gown, senior Andrea Stitt, was the first speaker to address her peers. She encouraged her fellow graduates to stay focused on their goals and to not allow themselves to become distracted or to lose their ambition. Life will not be easy, she said. Also, In fact, she said, it will likely feel unfair at times. Also, she said, there will more than likely be setbacks. The possibilities are real, she said. “But, none of that will happen unless we put in the necessary work and stay focused on our goals. If we allow ourselves to become distracted and lose our ambition our dreams will never become a reality.”
Pausing a moment, she appeared to be scanning the faces of her classmates. There is so much potential sitting here in the room, she said.
“ I’m looking out into a sea of familiar faces and in this class, I see future doctors, nurses, lawyers, politicians, artists, business men and women, and those going into the armed forces to protect our country,“ she offered.
A second speaker, Shannon Reifowitz, added a little humor to the occasion.
“Now that you are graduating, just remember, bosses don’t usually accept notes from your mother,” she said. Laughter is the best form of medicine, she added.
“Even in the toughest moments in life, never forget to find the good and take the time to laugh.”
On a serious note, Reifowitz encouraged her peers to not only laugh but to follow their dreams, dream big and to not be afraid of failure. Life is not always easy, she said. It comes with stress, heartbreak, anxiety and many more emotions that may overwhelm us.
“Remember to stand in the midst of the storms and to get back up when life knocks you down,” she said. Regarding dreams, she said, “Everyone who has ever made a difference in this world had a dream that they couldn’t help but chase. “You need to have faith, trust and maybe a little pixie dust.”
Regarding failure, she said, “It is in getting up and trying again that we will acquire the strength to pursue our dreams.”
The graduation event lasted about two hours with 219 students, including 29 honor graduates, listed on the roster to receive their diplomas.
Several graduates participated in the ceremony. Alli Bonnema said the invocation. Anna Palmer officiated the turning of the rings. Abby Smith conducted the changing of the tassels and Rebecca Williams performed the benediction. The Vilonia High School Band played the National Anthem.
Matt Sewell, high school principal, read the students names as they made their way, alphabetically, to the stage. Randy Sanders, president of the Vilonia Board of Education, presented most of the diplomas. The graduating class, Sewell said, received $3.1 million in scholarships.