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LHS Class of 2008 urged to stand up, make a difference

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By Tom Wilmoth

Before handing out their diplomas, Liberty High School Principal Dr. Cherie Whitehurst told the 238 graduating seniors that they had a lot to look forward to in the years to come.

"You have an exciting future ahead of you," she said, during the ceremony held at the Liberty University Vines Center Saturday.

The theme of this year's graduation was a quote from Dr. Seuss: "Be Who You Are and Say What You Feel, Because Those Who Mind Don't Matter and Those Who Matter Don't Mind."

"This has been a long and sometimes challenging journey for all of us," the school's valedictorian, John-Morton Andrew Padgett told his classmates. "Nevertheless, we've made it."

Padgett urged the LHS Class of 2008 to be themselves and urged them to stand up for what they believe. "Everyone is unique," he said, adding, "celebrate your uniqueness."

He said part of the journey of life is discovering who you are. "Find what you're passionate about and live your dreams."

Salutatorian Eli Hampton White echoed those thoughts, urging his classmates to not just "go along with the crowd."

He said there would be many challenges along the way to face, both as individuals and as part of the world. "We can't just sit back and let things slide," he said of those challenges, noting the issues of war, the economy and the environment.

"If you truly believe in something, you must persevere," White said. "We as a generation can and will make a difference."

Michelle Nika VanVliet and Rachel Kate Asbury also spoke, urging their classmates to make a difference.

"Confidence in your sense of self will serve only to empower you," Asbury said. "Stand up, speak up and be yourself."

She added it will be important along the journey of life not to forge those who've helped pave the way, family and friends who've supported them.

"We finally made it," she concluded. "Our future awaits."

During the graduation ceremony a moment of silence was held for three members of the class: Cody Robert Saunders, Stephen Miles Radlbeck and Alton James Snead.

The LHS Class of 2008 Honor Graduates included: John-Morton Andrew Padgett, valedictorian; Eli Hampton White, salutatorian; Michelle Nika VanVliet; Rachel Kate Asbury; Tyler Cannady Key; Natasha Nicole Spinner Hollie Nichole Lacy; Morgan Christian Atkins; Meghan Elizabeth Murphy; and Margaret Pauline Sloan.

The LHS Class of 2008 Officers were: John-Morton Andrew Padgett, president; Herbert Foushee White, vice president; Hollie Nichole Lacy, secretary; Allison Renee Witt, treasurer; and Kathryn Rose Matherly, reporter.