Former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise quoted another well-known Mountain State native as he congratulated the Tygarts Valley High School Class of 2013 Thursday in Mill Creek.
"As (country singer) Brad Paisley says in one of his songs, 'Welcome to the future,'" Wise told the 62 TVHS seniors who received their diplomas at the high school's 90th annual commencement ceremony.
"This is an ending in some ways, but it's also a very exciting beginning," said Wise, who served as governor from 2001 to 2005 and is currently the president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national education policy and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.
During his tenure as governor, Wise signed legislation that provided funding for the PROMISE scholarship program, so it only made sense that Wise was on hand to deliver PROMISE scholarships to six deserving recipients - Jessica Anderson, Brianna Arbogast, Jarred Bowers, Steven Demyan, Aaron New and Shanda Howell.
However, Wise also made time to impart a nugget of wisdom to TVHS's graduates in the form of an acronym.
"As you move forward in your lives, always remember A-C-T, and I'm not talking about the test," the former governor joked. Wise said "A" stands for appreciation - the importance of appreciating the people who've been supportive of graduates as they completed their studies -while "C" represents change - the one thing that's constant in our world, Wise said. "T" is for try, he said, challenging the students to try to have a positive impact on their world.
"Somewhere along the way, whether you're in Mill Creek, W.Va., or somewhere else, you're always going to have the opportunity to give back," he said.
Wise is attempting to heed his own advice, he said during a brief interview with The Inter-Mountain prior to the start of Thursday's ceremony.
Although he loved holding political office, 2013 marks the eighth year Wise has served as Alliance for Excellent Education's president. The group wants every student in the country to graduate from high school equipped with the tools necessary to succeed in college or a career.
"Here, I'm directly trying to improve the education of students across the country," Wise said. "Education has always been my passion and now I get to work in it everyday.
"My wife says it's the longest I've held a job that I didn't have to run for," he joked.
Wise believes top-notch teachers and the latest technology are essential to a solid education.
"Students also need to be prepared to keep adapting to our ever-changing world," he remarked. "You learn subject matter, but you also learn that you're always going to have to keep learning. This isn't the end of their (TVHS graduates') education; it's really only a beginning."
Successful entrepreneur and TVHS alum Hubert Ronald McGee served as Thursday's keynote speaker. McGee was unable to complete high school because of a struggle with severe dyslexia. Nonetheless, McGee became an especially skilled crane operator and continued on to open a business, McGee Mobile Crane, Inc., in the Arlington, Va. area, a family-run company still in existence today.
"I started out as a janitor, believe it or not," McGee said. "You all are so lucky to be able to graduate.
"It's pretty basic: use good common sense," McGee advised the Class of 2013. "Be humble. Be honest, and there's no limit to where you can go. If I can do it, anybody can do it."
2013 TVHS graduates include: Jessica Desiraye Anderson, Justin Derek Anderson, Brianna Rose Arbogast, Donald Ray Arbogast, DeShawn Jamal Bankhead, Zachary Allen Bennett, Jarred David Bowers, Kaitlin Dawn Burnside, Adam Michael Cassell, Christopher Lee Croston, Arlington Woody Currence, Dustin Aaron Currence, Jacob Steven Currence, Keian Matthew Currence, Adam Holt Decker, Steven Michael Demyan, Jacob Lee Dressler, Tori Page Elbon, Jordan Alexandra Fincham, Dustin Edward George, Brett William Griffith, Tyler Scott Gum, Shanda Jane Howell (valedictorian), Sean Michael Kerns, Bradley David King, Michael Edmond Kramer, Abigail Marie Leash, Madison Leann Licwov, Joshua Parker Longbon, Cheyenne Marie Martin, Justin Tyler McCrary, Abigail Elizabeth McCune, Karen Michelle McIntyre, Kasey Marie Meadows, Erin Keely Murphy, Aaron Elsworth New, Brandon Lee Pritt, Kasondra Renea Robinson, Matthew Alexander Samples, Daniel Thomas Sayre, Teresa Marie Scott, Cassey Lynn Shaw, Brittany Renee Shrader, Dillon Wyatt Shrader, Jarit Nathan Shrader, Zakery Edward Shreve, Collene Nichole Smith, Marshall Allen Snyder, Timothy William Sparks, William Davin Standridge, Hunter Brooke Tanner, Miranda Kay Taylor, Shaunna Marie Taylor, Andrew John Torres, Alexis Dawn Vandevender, Melissa Von Bruton, Chantelle Renee Wamsley, Cory Lynn Weese, Nicole Lynn Welch, Benjamin Edward Wiseman and Lindsay Nicole Wood (salutatorian).
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