When getting ready for her son’s graduation ceremony Thursday, Emily Surles knew there was one item she couldn’t forget to take.
“I brought my tissue. I cried at his baccalaureate,” said Surles, who needed the tissues as her eldest child, Christian Cox, received his Fox Creek High School diploma during the graduation ceremony held at Aiken Technical College. “I’m so proud of him.”
Cox, who will attend the University of South Carolina Aiken in the fall, was one of 84 graduates from the charter school to walk the stage. The class of 2013 has the distinction of being the first class to have attended the school in its Shortcut Road facility all four years of high school.
The keynote speaker was Courtney Turner, a 2008 graduate of Fox Creek High School who was crowned at Miss South Carolina USA 2011 and placed in the top eight at the Miss USA 2011 pageant.
“Greatness is not something only a lucky few are destined to achieve,” said Turner, who now resides in Los Angeles.
She gave the graduates three keys for their future success. She encouraged them to invest in themselves, remember the importance of kindness and believe in their dreams. As a child, Turner was shy, and although she dreamed of being a leader and being in front of people, she was afraid of speaking.
To overcome her fears and help with her confidence, she started doing pageants, she said.
As she continued to invest in herself, she learned she needed to change her self-talk. A dream without a plan of action is just a wish, she said.
Someone in Los Angeles told her she was destined to fail unless she really put faith in her dream.
“Until you grasp that mindset, you are only going to be hoping and wishing,” she said. “Prepare yourself for opportunity when it comes your way.”
Two other speakers also gave the graduates tips about their future.
Valedictorian Mary Catherine Elora Jenkins wove life lessons from literary and pop culture classics into her address.
From the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, know that things aren’t always as they seem; from Swiss Family Robinson, make the best of situations; from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, have a good attitude; from The Odyssey, never give up and don’t be afraid to try something new; and from Sherlock Holmes, be extraordinary.
Life isn’t one big story, she said, but it’s made up of many little ones.
The school’s salutatorian Haley Cecilia Bryant congratulated her classmates on their spirit of excellence and the “legacy of excellence” they leave behind them.
“The Class of 2013 is set for success,” she said.