WESTPORT – The gymnasium at South Decatur High School (SDHS) was filled to the brim Saturday with supportive family members and friends cheering for the graduating class of 2014.
The commencement exercises began as most do, with the standard fanfare and welcomes, but as the graduates came down the aisle, the atmosphere changed. Hope, optimism and celebration seemed to be a palpable force among the graduates and the crowd that came to witness their triumph appeared to be no less excited.
SDHS Assistant Principal Marty Layden introduced the 2014 salutatorian, Emily Mapes. Her extensive list of extracurricular activities showed how Mapes has been involved in school beyond the required learning. With her speech, Mapes encouraged the members of the graduating class to seek out opportunities to further their educations, letting their curiosity lead them to unexpected places.
“Let this not be the end of your learning,” Mapes said. “Now is the time to continue to learn. Only through curiosity can the world become bigger and smaller at the same time.”
Following Mapes’ speech, the senior members of the SDHS choir performed a rendition of “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons. As the choir members took their seats, Layden introduced the 2014 SDHS valedictorian, Taylor Kopplin.
Kopplin spoke about learning as well; learning from one’s mistakes to do better and be better in the future. He earnestly encouraged his classmates to strive for the great potential they all possess. By learning from mistakes and working to do things right, a bright future is within all their grasps.
“Those who succeed learn from their mistakes,” Kopplin said. “We all have the potential to be great. We will all make mistakes, but it’s what you learn from them that counts.”
SDHS staff members Andy and Dolores Honeycutt were honored for the many years of service, as Saturday’s commencement marked the beginning of their retirements. Andy Honeycutt has been working at SDHS for 33 years and Dolores Honeycutt for 29. Those in attendance rose and gave them both a standing ovation and heartfelt applause. The Honeycutts plan to spend their retirement years enjoying time with family, traveling and working in Andy’s woodshop.