Raider graduates ready to take on world
Published 10:45 am Friday, June 5, 2015
If the Southampton Academy Class of 2015 could have hit a big pause button to slow down time on Saturday, then we might all still be standing still.
Headmaster Scott Wasdin wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, as he reflected on these members of the Raider Nation.
“There are many schools that take a deep breath, and think, ‘I am glad we don’t have to see them again.’ That is not how we think,” Wasdin said. “We are excited about your potential, we are thrilled for your future, but we are saddened by your absence from the moment this ceremony ends.
“You don’t have to ask,” he added about returning to the halls of the school. “Come anytime you want — to be a part of our school activities, events and the flow of life.”
Valedictorian Paige Parker said as the class grew up together, there were many moments where they would have liked to hit pause, and that included graduation day.
“No doubt, graduating is a bittersweet point in our lives where we are torn between the joy of countless memories and the excitement of our future,” she said in her farewell. “We want to slow it all down and enjoy the last few moments we have together. However, we can rejoice in the fact that we have so much to look forward to.”
Graduating in a class of 19 individuals, the bonds created grow deep.
“Something that I reflected upon as the school year drew to a close was how much of a support system we have created together,” Parker said. “Whether it be cheering on a teammate or laughing until our stomachs ache, we are always there to lift each other up. As the months passed, we grew, learning how to work as individuals and as a team.
“Over the years, Southampton Academy has been more than just a place for learning. It’s been a place to foster our love for so many things that has allowed each of us to grow in our relationship with others.”
The tight-knit nature at the school was also something Marshall Rabil recalled, dating back to when he walked the same halls as early as the 1980s. The now Franklin, Tennessee, resident, who had been a coach and teacher at the school, also knew most of the young adults who would soon walk across the stage.
“I also have a deep love and appreciation for the 19 of you that are graduating today,” Rabil said. “Fortunately, I had the opportunity to study the world through history and writing, basketball, soccer and kayaking with many of you for a couple years. You all taught me more than I can begin to describe. You challenged me daily, maybe hourly.”
Rabil also gave a shout-out to the state champion baseball and softball teams.
“I did want to shave a mohawk into my head and join our state championship baseball and softball teams,” he said. “It’s great to go out on top and y’all earned that glory.
“When I was coaching we were nowhere near the success of a state championship. So it’s clear that it was the coach to blame, and not the players. But I’m proud of all of you and was thrilled to learn of the great accomplishments and the wonderful colleges that you’ll be attending.”
The outdoors lover has had a chance to travel the world — sometimes by himself — and climb high peaks. He told the class that there would be moments where they would stumble, but to always persevere.
“The journey is often strenuous. It can be freezing cold, wet, rainy,” Rabil said. “Your feet are covered in blisters and your back is sore from carrying a heavy pack. The air is thin because you’re in high altitudes. You can’t really breathe that well.
“And all you want to do is turn around, go home, take a hot shower and have a warm meal,” he continued. “But I learned a simple Swahili phrase on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro: ‘Pole, pole,’ which means, ‘slowly, slowly.’ With enough patience and persistence, you will achieve your goals. And when you get to the summit of a peak at sunrise, something about all that effort you put into that journey is rewarding in a way that can only be described as spiritual. When you experience life in a deeper way, you’ll appreciate it more.”
Parker said she believes in each and every one of her classmates’ ability to pursue their wildest dreams and accomplish them.
“We are graduates of the Southampton Academy Class of 2015, and we are one of a kind,” she said, and read a quote from “The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage” by Eric Greitens, writing to inspire from a Navy Seal’s perspective. “‘There will be moments of spectacular beauty along the way and times of deep pain. But as you take each step, you have the opportunity to create yourself, to become compassionate, to become courageous, to become committed to causes greater than yourself.’”
Parker concluded, “Go be great, Class of 2015.”