Congrats to Adam Carter, Carlos DeLao, Alma Flores, Amanda Gaskins, Zoe Huppert, Logan Jenkins, Kade Nagakane, Wyatt Norris, Andrew Tillett, and Alin Villanueva as they celebrate the end of their high school years!
Many people contributed to make the ceremony special for the students. Local pianist Julie Howard played "Pomp and Circumstance" for the Processional, the Rev. Ivey Belch opened with the Invocation, the Rev. Laura Stern gave the Benediction at the end, and the audience enjoyed a slideshow of the graduates prepared by Alma and Amanda. Amanda presented the Class Colors to rising freshman Darvin Contreras, who accepted the transfer on behalf of the Class of 2018.
The annual Community Service Award was presented by Adam Carter to Stella O'Neal.
Zoe Huppert gave the Salutatory Address, Andrew Tillet gave the Valedictory Address (read it below!), and Jason Wells was the guest speaker for the Commencement Address. Ocracoke School Principal Walt Padgett and teacher Leslie Cole awarded the Diplomas, and then presented the graduates to Hyde County Schools Superintendent Dr. Randolph Latimore, who officially pronounced them done with Ocracoke School.
Here, in its entirety, is Andrew's Valedictory Address. The Current is happy to publish it because it's the first time Socrates or Plato have been mentioned in these pages, and we like to feel smart by association with Andrew. He'll be off to Chapel Hill this fall to study physics, trading Dolphin Blue for Carolina Blue. Go, Andrew!
Good evening. Before I begin, I would like to once again welcome you all. Students, teachers, parents, and esteemed guests, it is a pleasure to have you all here tonight.
In his work, The Republic, Plato records a dialogue with Socrates, where he describes the Allegory of the Cave. Socrates paints the picture of a figmental cave, where prisoners are confined against a wall that faces towards the caves end. Every day, the prisoners see the silhouettes of the things that pass by the mouth of the cave— the silhouettes are all they know. They become accustomed, and eventually content. Then one day, one of the prisoners becomes free of his bonds, and is compelled to leave the cave, and join the world of the light. Socrates continues to explain how at first, the brightness of the light blinds the person, but over time, they become adjusted, and are surprised to see new depth, which they didn’t know existed from their limited view within the cave. Then, one day, after having taken in much of the new world around them, the person returns to the cave to inform their fellow prisoners of the life outside the cave.
In his allegory, Socrates describes a society, where once you are released from your bindings, you can begin to see the world in a new light. The only downside, is of course, that you can never return to a time without the light. High school, in its way, is a cave. You are presented with views of the world, but you don’t yet have everything you need to see the world in its entirety. At the same time, people who have already left high school, and experienced the world, have come back to help us try and prepare, as Socrates predicted. Our teachers and parents fit this archetype the best, but also our older friends, who may merely have wanted to know our future plans; they too have helped prepare us for the light of day.
So, if we stay true to Socrates’ example, it means that we graduates are about to step into the light for the first time. We have been released from our bindings, and are about to be pleasantly blinded by the light of the sun; which will caste a new perspective on everything we know. And, in time, we will have a new view of the world around us. This transition will take time. Over the next few years, we will begin careers, start paying our own bills, going to jury duty, and becoming full-fledged adults. Some of us are already barreling down this road, while it will take longer for others. That’s okay.
After today, not only will we be finished with high school, but we will be finished with our time in the cave. It is a slippery slope, because although we are entering the adult world, something we have all been looking forward to, it is bitter sweet. On one hand, we are starting new chapters, and will be able to explore the world more fully, but on the other, we will never be able to come back. After today, our time at Ocracoke will be entirely behind us, and it will never be the same when we walk through its doors.
For Socrates, only philosophers like himself could ever hope to attain the enlightenment which comes with exodus from the cave, but in my interpretation, it comes to us all, sooner or later. Our own steps into the light are guided by those who are already there, are parents, and our teachers. I would like to thank all of you, for everything you have done, it was pivotal in helping us all during our time here at Ocracoke.
Fellow graduates, we have been together for years. For better and for worse. But now, I would like to take the time to wish you the best of luck as you begin acclimating yourself to life outside the cave. Congratulations on everything you have accomplished so far, and good luck with everything you will do in the future. Thank you.