"If you would take a minute to look at each other you will notice that we are so different in many ways, yet we all have one thing in common - our deafness. Yes, our deafness may make our lives more challenging at times. But, how we choose to address this will depend on how successful we are.
"We must never give up and we need to practice a positive attitude. You are special. Hold your head high and know that you can overcome any obstacle that life throws your way."
Brunton spoke of her fear of school when she first entered KSD.
"I will never forget growing up with a fear of the water, but when I was around 12 years old I finally could swim in deep water with confidence," she said through interpreters. "I can also remember being afraid of catching a beach ball. But I went on to play high school sports and enjoyed that very much. I believe that being involved in sports has helped me to grow as an adult and to overcome my fears."
Noel is salutatorian
William Chadwick Noel, a Mercer Countian who was named salutatorian of the Class of 2004, thanked Brunton.
"I was seven years old and came to KSD in the fall of 1992," he said. "I had no signing skills; I would jabber all the time but new friends taught me sign language. Mickie Brunton was the first student who taught me signing, and I am proud to call her my friend."
Noel quoted former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famous "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" pronouncement in challenging his classmates to overcome obstacles.
"During my middle and high school I've struggled with mathematics," he said. "I've tried hard in math class and when I was afraid I could not achieve, I would remember Roosevelt's words about fear and just keep working. I know I will and you will face many challenging, fearful events in the future, but we have to be bold and never give up if we want to succeed."
Brunton received the Kentucky Association of Deaf Educational Fund Senior Writing Portfolio Award, the Heritage Community Bank Scholarship and the Lions Club Joseph B. Balasa Memorial Scholarship in addition to her valedictorian honors.
Michael Hayes received the KAD Education Aid Fund CBI Recognition award.
The graduating members of KSD's Class of 2004 are:
Crystal Dawn Wilder and Mickie Estelle Brunton, both of Boyle County; William Chadwick Noel, Mercer County; Robert Milo Phillips, Carter County; Jeffrey Calvin Cole, Warren County; Christopher Lee Rhoden, Greenup County; Michael Breon Hayes, Nelson County; and Kerry Dean Helton Jr., Casey County.