"There is no straight road to retirement," he said. "Life is a series of learning experiences." He told the class members they should not choose future work based on how much money they would make. "Pick something you will enjoy."
Huston followed six members of the class who spoke to their classmates and those gathered for the ceremony. Ashley Curry spoke first and noted that the present and future have been made possible by other people. "What we are and what we will be would be impossible if not for the love and devotion that has been endlessy poured into our lives," she said. "This is a debt I will forever owe."
Joe Harris quoted Winston Churchill's charge to never give in. "Know what you want and do not stop until you get it. No matter who or what the enemy that stands in your way is, or how overwhelming it may seem, drive toward your goal until you get there. 'Never give in, never never, never give in.'"
Class President Jessica Jackson tearfully bid her classmates goodbye. Quoting Deepak Copra, she said, "There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in." Then in her own words, she said, "Our childhood is sadly ending, but only to bring a bright future. ... I wish all of you the Burgin Elementary School. ... I love you all."
Ashleigh Gray also noted the ceremony marks the end of childhood and quoted poet e.e. cummings: "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are," the poet wrote. Gray added, "We have now passed the easy part of our lives. Now is the time we become ourselves."
Sean Bottoms was the last to speak and thanked all of the people that made this moment in his life possible. For him, graduation is "Something that has been 12 years in the making and now I get to stand here in front of you in this funny robe and hat and speak." He also thanked his classmates for their friendship and the times they have enjoyed together. "Always keep our memories of Burgin in a special place in your heart."
Members of the Burgin High School Class of 2004 are:
Savannah Lyn Bartley, Sean William Bottoms, Amanda Worley Cocanougher, Clay Cocanougher, Mary Magdalene Cook, Ashley Danielle Curry, Amanda Odell Goss, Ashleigh Paige Gray, Brandy Marie Green, John Zachary Gross;
Joseph Russell Harris, Adam Jacob Hartman, Trisha Waynette Houp, Jessica Jackson, Justin Colby Kendrick, Ricky Joe Lane, Nancy Carol Lawson, Jesse Day Layton, Amber R. Lowe, Brenda Alexis Mason;
John Joseph McConaha, Andrew Edwin Minton, John Michael Peach, Chris M. Royalty, Matthew S. Russell, Brian M. Sexton, Brandi Nichole Tatum, Keneasha Taylor, Corey Daniel Wilson and Robert Dale Wylie Jr.