IWA Chargers urged to be valuable, reach higher

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Isle of Wight Academy seniors throw their caps in the air to celebrate after the graduation ceremony on Friday evening. The students will attend schools as close as Paul D. Camp Community College, and as far away as Brigham Young University. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Isle of Wight Academy seniors throw their caps in the air to celebrate after the graduation ceremony on Friday evening. The students will attend schools as close as Paul D. Camp Community College, and as far away as Brigham Young University. — Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Be an asset.

Based on his own experiences, that was one of many pearls of wisdom that Christopher D. Hooper said to the Class of 2015 at Isle of Wight Academy on Friday evening. The 49 graduates, many who received scholarships for their higher learning, were already quite familiar with the guest speaker. Hooper is both the assistant headmaster for the Upper School and director of technology.

In 1983, he sat where the class was situated in the gymnasium, and before getting his own diploma, heard from the speaker at the time.

“I can’t remember anything he said, but that he spoke. Hopefully, I’ll say something that’ll stick,” Hooper said, and offered other insights such as:

1. “There’s a system in place. Figure it out.”

2. Asked once if he was an asset or liability as a Mormon missionary, Hooper admitted that he’d never thought about that before, but replied, “I think I’m an asset.” As mentioned earlier, he also urged the Chargers to contribute to the world.

3. Get uncomfortable in order to grow. Hooper related a story about servicemen in training. They had to roll about in sand and wear that through the day, looking like sugar cookies.

“You’re never going to have the perfect uniform. Learn to live as a sugar cookie,” he said.

4. “Service to others.”

5. “Thank mom and dad.” It was then that Hooper took a moment to collect himself. The occasion was especially meaningful to him for his daughter, Gabriella Julia Hooper, was among those graduates. As class president, she got to introduce her father.

6. “We all put limits on ourselves,” he said. “You can do more than you think.”

Calling on each graduate to raise one of their hands, Hooper then said, “Reach higher!”

7. While he urged the students to come back and visit IWA, Hooper also called on them to excel.

“Go out and do great things, but do only things that make you proud.”

Before Hooper had his turn at the podium, though, four of the graduates had things to say to their peers, beginning with Salutatorian Bailey Jameson Key. She wittily used references to books and songs — even a billboard advertising a plumbing service — to describe her thoughts on what to say in this instance. Then let them in on a secret.

“Someone is going to lie to you: ‘You’ll remember these days as the best days of your life.’ Don’t drink that Kool-Aid,” Key said. “But perhaps we will miss these days. Thanks for the memories, IWA, and now on with the show!”

There were three valedictorians for the ceremony.

“We should see the good in the bad situations,” Christopher Andrew Hickman first told his classmates.

“When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Do something. We should try to be the good in a bad situation. Make life regret it gave you lemons. Get mad and do it with a purpose!”

Barely able to contain her excitement, second valedictorian Emily Diane Hooker said to her peers, “I know we’ll get to do great things…my wish is for you to enjoy every minute of your life.”

With growing tears in her eyes, Hooker added IWA has been a second family.

“I wouldn’t trade any of my memories.”

Jacob Benjamin Wait said that the thought of being able to one-up his brother was a motivation to become a valedictorian, a statement that inspired laughter in the audience.

But in seriousness, Wait said that he’s learned to never do things halfway, such as weight training.

“Mediocrity is not worth your time,” he said.

Following all the speeches, the diplomas were presented and then scholarships were awarded. These graduates received the following:

Samuel Butler

• Colonial Agricultural Educational Foundation Scholarship for $1,500

• Blanchford Raveling Scholarship for $1,000

• Isle of Wight Ruritan Scholarship for $1,000

Emily Clifford

• USS George H.W. Bush Scholarship for $2,500

Christopher Hickman

• Pastor Alumni Scholarship for $500

• Liberty University Champion scholarship for $1,000

• Liberty University Academic Scholarship for $5,000

• Virginia Scholarship for $1,500

Emily Hooker

• Ruth Camp Campbell Scholarship for $5,000 renewable for 4 years

• Windsor Ruritan Scholarship for $1,000

Gabriella Hooper

• Ruth Camp Campbell Scholarship for $5,000 renewable for 4 years

• Jane Fischetti/Ann Barber Scholarship for $1,500

Bailey Key

• Portsmouth Chapter of the Military Leaders of Virginia for $1,500

• North Carolina State University 4-year renewable scholarship package for a total of $80,000

• United States Army National 3-year Advanced Designee Scholarship for $90,000

Matthew Meakin

• University of South Carolina Scholarships awarded in the amount of $8,900

Michael Mullen

• C.E. & H. Ruritan Club Scholarship for $1,000

• Taylor Pierce Memorial Award with accompanying $100

Jessica Teter

• Smithfield Ruritan Club Build Your Dollars Scholarship $300 plus

Jordan Triplett

• Biola University Eagle Scholarship in the amount of $5,000 per year for $20,000 total

Jacob Wait

• Navy ROTC scholarship for full tuition at Virginia Tech

• Ruth Camp Campbell Scholarship for $5,000 renewable for 4 years

• American Logistics Association Scholarship for $1,500

• Smithfield Ruritans Scholarship for $1,000

• Hunter Liebold Memorial Scholarship for $500

Jacob Wait, Adam Webb

• Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets Scholarship for $8,500

Bailey Key

• Smithfield Rotary Club Scholarship for $1,000

Gabriella Hooper

• Zuni Ruritan Scholarship for $500

Samuel Butler

• Farm Bureau Scholarship for $1,000

Gabriella Hooper

• American Legion Scholarship for $1,000

Bailey Key

• Sandra D. Crocker Memorial Scholarship for $1,000

Christopher Hickman, Jordan Triplett

• National Honor Society Scholarship for $100

Christopher Hickman, Emily Hooker, Jacob Wait

• Parent-Teacher Organization Scholarship for $100

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