By Curt Yeomans
Tavares Stephens, the instructional lead teacher for the Clayton County school system's Open Campus High School, used to teach literature to students, so he couldn't resist borrowing some literary phrases for his speech to about 40 graduating seniors on Wednesday.
"Commencement actually means something is beginning," Stephens told the graduates. "The introduction is where you learned how joyous life can be, and how sorrowful it can be as well. Now, it's time to write the body of your life."
Stephens also encouraged the graduates to work on reaching their goals in the future. He explained the graduates can do whatever they dream of doing with their lives, if they live "a life of unlimited possibilities."
"You have the power to write the next stories in your life," he said. "You can choose to become the person you want to be, or you can become someone else. If you decide to use the body of your life to look at yourself, your story will be what comes out of you."
He referred to the first 12 years of education as the introduction to learning, and the rest of their lives as the bodies of their individual stories.
The seniors were students at the Open Campus High School, which allows students to catch up, or get ahead in their classes.
One of the graduates, Ronquesha Armour, read a poem, "It's A Time to Say Goodbye," about seniors going in separate directions after graduating from Open Campus.
"Graduation day is the day when our dreams come true," Armour said. "This is the day we've been waiting for, since we started our education ... it's sad to watch our friends go down other paths in life."
After the speeches were given, the school's administrators handed out diplomas and ribbons to each graduate. As the ceremony progressed, the bells signaling the end of one class and the start of another periodically rang out.
"I wanted to give you guys lots of bells and whistles, but that was the best I could do," joked William Greene, the principal of the Open Campus High School.