Franklin graduates bid farewell to their classmates

Published 11:48 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015

From left, Kei-Airra King, Kyndal Hall and Alexus Harris celebrate after the Franklin High School graduation on Friday night. -- Frank Davis | Tidewater News

From left, Kei-Airra King, Kyndal Hall and Alexus Harris celebrate after the Franklin High School graduation on Friday night. — Frank Davis | Tidewater News

“It sure has been a long, long time coming,” Shamar Ballard said as he began his Senior Address on Friday. Sixty-eight graduating seniors and their friends and families gathered at the Workforce Center to collect their diplomas.

“There’s a great big American pie out there and I hope we all get a delicious slice of it,” Ballard said, setting the celebratory tone that carried throughout the evening. “We have proved that we are destined for great things by making it here today. Let’s take the next step to our success and our future and be the best that we can be.”

Reflective and joyful, the students of Franklin High School proudly displayed their school’s sense of family and community in their final moments together. Ballard, and his fellow commencement speakers, Jacob Tatum and Brianna Karmilovich, all expressed their love for this surrogate family in their speeches.

In addition to fostering lifelong relationships between the students who have known each other since kindergarten, they are welcoming of new students.

“Coming from a big school I can tell from experience that its easy to get lost in the crowd,” Tatum said as he told the story of how he first was accepted into Franklin’s fold. “I wasn’t expecting much from Franklin, so I sort of set myself to be an outcast. That changed quick one day when I was sitting by myself at lunch when my friend came up to me and asked if I wanted to go sit at their table. From then on I guess you could say I became a Bronco.”

Tatum continued to expand on his view of his classmates as family by describing his experiences as a member of the football team and JROTC.

“In football, I got stronger and had a lot of fun, and I learned teamwork. In JROTC, I learned the values of commitment and leadership. And of course, in both programs, I learned to keep myself looking sharp,” he said, earning a chuckle from the audience.

Tatum concluded his speech by again addressing his classmates as members of his extended family.

“We worked together to get where we are today, helping each other through school, sports and other things, and I truly believe that as a school, that is one of the most important things we’ve got going for us. We worked as a family to get here and we will walk across this stage as a family,” Tatum said.

Karmilovich was also appreciative of her fellow graduates.

“I still have pictures of a few of us standing together in kindergarten, as well as a sufficient amount of blackmail photos from our awkward middle school stages,” she said with a laugh.

Karmilovich, the valedictorian, acknowledged that leaving Franklin would come with its challenges.

“Having high school come to an end is a bit surreal as it ends what has been for must of us a level of familiarity and security we’ve all become accustomed to,” she said.

However, she voiced her hope that her fellow graduates will do well in the world after high school.

“Because I’ve come to know most of you quite well, I can confidently say that there is an inexplicably large amount of potential within each and every individual sitting before me,” she said.

Karmilovich ended her speech with an interpretation “Paradoxical Commandments” written by Keith Kent, in which she encouraged her fellow graduates to do good and be kind in spite of the challenges they will face in the future.

“Trust God in every moment. Have courage and be kind. And congratulations! We did it!”

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