“Integrity is love for humanity, for the society we live in, and all its inhabitants regardless of our differences or even our similarities.” – Nicolas Panganiban, Yadkin Early College Class of 2021.
Students from the Yadkin Early College were the first among Yadkin County students of the class of 2021 to accept their diplomas at an outdoor graduation ceremony held Friday at the Yadkin County park amphitheater. The challenges of having school amid a global pandemic with some virtual classes and a transition back to in-person learning was much-discussed by the student and staff speakers as well as special commencement speaker Bobby Todd, director of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce.
“Your determination to reach this goal, especially under the conditions that were brought upon us over the last 14 months, can be commended,” Todd told the graduates. “You should be very very proud.”
Todd cautioned the graduates that their future plans, both things in their control and not in their control, could change their path.
“Your class knows better than most because of the effects the pandemic has had on all of us,” he said. “I salute you for meeting these challenges.”
Top students of the Yadkin Early College class of 2021 spoke during the ceremony, each sharing thoughts on the school’s tenets of responsibility, integrity, honesty and respect.
Student speaker Arella Aridahi Pina acknowledged the challenges of the past year, saying she had even thought of quitting school.
“It’s been a very hard year and I believe even more important than an education we need to take responsibility for our lives and live it as we want,” Pina said.
“You only get one life on this earth so live it to the fullest,” Pina told her classmates. “This is only the beginning and I can’t wait to see where everyone will go.”
Speaking on integrity, student Nicolas Kyle Panganiban said integrity is often defined as the actions one takes when no one is looking.
“It is so much more,” said Panganiban. “This definition, great as it is, fails to include the things we do in front of others but still out of the goodness of our hearts… Integrity is more than the actions we take when no one is looking and it is more than the actions we take out of the goodness of our hearts. There are no amount of words I can conjure up today to define everything integrity is, but if was to attempt to do so using only one, I would define integrity as love — love for your family, your friends, your neighbor, your child whose graduation you are attending today, even the person sitting next to you right now, whether you know them or not, and most importantly it is love for yourself. Integrity is love for humanity, for the society we live in and all its inhabitants regardless of our differences or even our similarities. It is love for those who only present hatred to you and it is forgiveness for those have yet to ask for it.”
Panganiban went on to encourage all those in attendance to “in an act of integrity make someone smile.”
Also speaking during the ceremony were students Bushra Amin Alshaif and Mariana Victoria Vasquez Gallardo.
Early College Principal Chris Lyon concluded the ceremony telling the graduates that he was proud of them and their perseverance.
“This perseverance you have shown will certainly be a trait you will need as you move into the next steps of life,” he said.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @news_shewrote.