IWA graduates Class of 2019

Published 6:57 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2019

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer 

Being “extraordinary” was a prevalent theme during Isle of Wight Academy’s 49th graduation exercises on Friday. 

“It’s hard for many people to believe that there are extraordinary things inside themselves, as well as others. I hope you can keep an open mind,” said Co-Salutatorian Noah Hendricks during his speech, quoting the 2000 M. Night Shyamalan thriller “Unbreakable.” 

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A total of 54 seniors crossed the stage and secured diplomas that evening, led by Senior Class President Joshua Savage and championed by Valedictorian Mackenzie Wooten, who said during her speech that she’s attended Isle of Wight Academy for 15 years and that “the family, friendly atmosphere is like no other, and that is one thing that I will miss most.” {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Guest Speaker Zack Miller — a former photojournalist, TEDx Hampton Roads speaker, entrepreneur and author of “Anomaly: How to Finally Stand Out from the Crowd” — spoke about the importance of bucket lists, adding that on his personal bucket list were items such as attending a Super Bowl, helping a million people and running an Iron Man race, which he described as a triathlon including 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run, back-to-back. 

“I had this bucket list for about two or three years and I keep looking at this thing and I’m like ‘Zack, why is that thing on this list if you’re not going to do it?’ And I thought myself ‘Alright, if you’re not going to do it, delete it.’ Well, I decided not to delete it.” Miller said during his speech that the triathlon will take place this weekend, and that he’s been training for 500 straight days. 

After an especially strenuous workout, Miller said that he laid down on his kitchen floor and basically couldn’t get up for the next three hours. “A lot of times, we hit this hurdle, even though this thing that we really, really want is just over that hurdle…You just got to get through it.” 

On scholarships, Autumn Moody, Michael Riley Newsome, Charles Ashton Pacheco and Wooten were each awarded $250 National Honor Society scholarships, and Wooten, Co-Salutatorian Darren Upton and Hendricks were each awarded scholarships from the Parent-Teacher Organization, with Wooten receiving $1,000 and Upton and Hendricks each receiving $500. Upton also won a $100 French Honor Society scholarship. 

Madison Rountree was awarded a scholarship from Isle of Wight County Farm Bureau, Natalie Summerlin was awarded a scholarship from the Carrollton Ruritan Club, Upton was awarded the Delta Kappa Gamma — Gamma Epsilon Chapter scholarship, Upton and Wooten were awarded the Sandra D. Crocker Memorial Scholarship and Hendricks was awarded the Spanish Honor Society scholarship. Each of these were for undisclosed amounts.  

Other scholarships, awarded prior to graduation, went to Ashley Blair with a merit award from Old Dominion University for $2,000 and Ryan Boyce from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for $5,000 and the Hampden-Sydney University merit scholarship for $18,000, both renewable for four years. Noah Colyer was awarded the King’s Fork Woman’s Club scholarship for $500, Hendricks was awarded the Old Dominion University merit award for $6,000, Caitlyn Kinsey was awarded $5,000 from Christopher Newport University and Conner Soady received the University of South Carolina Distinguished Student Scholarship of $61,000 over four years, among other awards, according to Isle of Wight Academy staff.   

Upton was visibly burdened with trophies as he exited the graduation stage. 

“A very wise woman has been known to say that variety is the spice of life, and I used to disagree with that idea,” said Upton during his Co-Salutatorian speech; “It’s easy to become complacent with the status quo and order of the world, but where’s the fun in monotony? With this in mind, I challenge everyone to always fail at one thing: being ordinary. Be extraordinary.”

“This is the 21st century. Humans have eradicated a deadly disease, sent astronauts to the moon and begun to understand the universe. Society has become stagnant, but let us be passionate and unique, so that we can change the world,” said Upton. 

With future’s inevitable uncertainties ahead, Hendricks quoted “Unbreakable” again during his Co-Salutatorian speech: “It’s alright to be afraid, because this part won’t be like a comic book. Real life doesn’t fit into little boxes that are drawn for it.”  {/mprestriction}