CHARLOTTE — Every time Clayton O’Dell thinks about the past four years at Myers Park High School, she pictures the quad and how it was a constant for her class through change.
O’Dell recalled during the June 3 commencement that as freshmen they were often lost and confused on the quad. On rainy days, they were almost certain they would slip and fall. O’Dell also remembers being struck with a feeling of insignificance while navigating the campus, wondering how she would stand out amongst the school’s 3,600 students.
The valedictorian said she became empowered to find her role in the Mustang community, and so did her classmates.
“Eventually, we all found our paths and our roles here and we mastered the quad and we learned the power of this huge school is how we cross paths with each other and draw strength from our diversity,” O’Dell told the grads.
But no one was on their path alone. O’Dell said the Class of 2021 supported and picked each other up when things got “too muddy and messy.” In the end, their lives proved to be more intertwined than they thought.
“Soon, we are each going to find some new place where initially it may not be comfortable and we may not know our way around and we may worry that at some point we’ll slip and fall and look foolish, but just as we did in the messy MP quad, we will find our footing,” O’Dell said. “We will find where we each make an impact and if we keep supporting each other along the way we will get there even faster.”
Principal Mark Bosco told the Class of 2021 he was “personally very sorry” the pandemic caused them to miss many of the junior and senior rites of passage that have been traditions at Myers Park for decades.
As they move on, he encouraged them to embrace a questioning spirit and work on finding their “why” in life rather than their “what." In other words, not just figure out what they want to do in life, but why they want to do it.
“Remember, life will come at you fast — just ask your parents — and too many people focus on the 'what' of life rather than the 'why' of life,” Bosco said. "Happiness comes from 'why,' so find your 'why' and keep it at the center of all that you do.”
Due to class size, Myers Park High School's 2021 commencement was split into two ceremonies. Click on the videos below to watch: