SHILOH — The North Dorchester High School community celebrated the 94 graduates as they took their walk across stage to receive their high school diplomas.
The Class of 2016 earned more than $2 million in scholarships with students starting new chapters in college, the workforce and the military.
“The majority of us have been together since middle school, and some of us since elementary school,” said North Dorchester Valedictorian Austin Loeffler. “Over the years, we have been witnesses to growth. We truly are on the path to success.
“I ask that each of us set goals for our lives that are incredibly large,” he said. “When they are achieved, set higher ones.”
Loeffler said he has extremely high hopes for the Class of 2016.
“I know everyone has the desire to push themselves through the challenges life has to offer,” he said. “We are all headed in different directions, but remember, North Dorchester High School will always be home.”
Loeffler closed by thanking his fellow classmates who are heading into the U.S. Military, and said he looks forward to joining them after he graduates from college.
Lindsey Corkran received the honor of Salutatorian. She also received the Patricia H. Hopkins Memorial Scholarship Award given to a senior on the basis of scholarship, activities, dependability and potential for success in a chosen career. Corkran additionally was awarded the Willie James Sydnor Memorial Scholarship based on her character, scholarship, leadership, dependability, cooperation and loyalty to the school and community.
She said life has many steps, and each tasks helps build a foundation for a greater success.
“Today, we have succeeded,” she said. “These are the little tests that add up. So continue to work hard and reach your goals.”
Kayla Allen received the William R. Wheatley National Honor Society Student of the Year Award for possessing the qualities of extracurricular activities participation, citizenship, school spirit, loyalty, personal integrity and reliability.
Destiny Brown was awarded the North Dorchester High School Award for a senior in recognition of scholarship, loyalty and achievement as evidenced by the position of leadership and trust held in school.
Brown, along with Grace Brinsfield, received the North Dorchester High School Service Award for possessing outstanding qualities of dependability, leadership, trust, cooperation and loyalty to the school.
North Dorchester High class of 2007 graduate Cornell Stanley Jr. served as commencement speaker. He served as his senior class president and went to Morgan St. University. He now works as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch.
“You should be very, very proud of yourselves for accomplishing this milestone,” he said. “Graduation is one of those milestones in life that defines a coming of age. The ending of one era of life as a student, and the moving to the next stage at which you are a leader, a trailblazer, an achiever in our world.
“The coming times will be exciting times,” he said. “They will be trying, but they will all be dependent on you and your determination.”
Stanley said life does not always follow the plans that have been laid out.
“You will experience the highs and the lows of life — the difficult and the easy,” he said. “Unfortunately, there may be too many times where it seems like you are going against the current. True success will be defined by how you handle both of these times.
“Set forth on an uncharted path,” he said. “Go where others dare not to go. The important thing is you have already taken the initial steps to build a more promising future. Every class you have taken, every lab, every essay has prepared you to adapt to our challenging and changing world that we live in.”
This year’s Senior Class President Bailey Lowe said finishing high school is both exciting and terrifying. He said all the tasks achieved and completed in high school will have each student prepared for the future.
“With these events, we’ve laid the foundation for who we are and who we will always be,” he said. “These four years of high school are not something we can just put behind us. These years are us.”
North Dorchester High Principal Lynn Sorrells had the final word before dismissing the Class of 2016 for the final time.
“I told you guys you would do good,” she said. “There is no question that you as a group are academically prepared to move forward. You have completed a rigorous program of study.
“Each of you have an added distinction of being a North Dorchester High School graduate,” she said. “As an eagle, you will all have a nest to return to as a family to lean on. I wish the class of 2016 protection and blessings as you begin the next chapter of your life.”