MINT HILL – Principal Ericia Turner reflected on how the Class of 2021 endured through their high school experience, including losing classmate Modesty Shelton to a car crash as sophomores and having school interrupted by COVID-19 as juniors.
“You have endured the pandemic, shutdowns, economic downturn, social unrest and a tumultuous election year,” Turner told Rocky River graduates June 5 during commencement. “And yet you are here. You have learned some things that are more valuable than anything you could ever learn from a textbook.”
Turner encouraged graduates to look within themselves.
She explained how the lion, scarecrow and tin man in “The Wizard of Oz” hoped to get gifts from the wizard, but they didn't realize they already had those gifts inside them.
Nearly $6.2 million in academic and athletic scholarships were offered to Rocky River seniors, including Valedictorian Emily Mills, who earned a four-year ride to N.C. A&T State University through the Dowdy Scholars Program.
“In the last four years, I have grown intellectually and academically. I've balanced the rigors of college and high school courses. This experience has enhanced my knowledge and has molded me into a well-rounded member of society,” she said trying to maintain composure. “I am the embodiment of a dream of immigrant grandparents from Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica, who have instilled the importance of education.”
Mills would like to become an OB/GYN to deliver healthy babies and reduce racial disparities. She encouraged her classmates to follow their dreams and follow their hearts.