The saying goes that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and for more than 400 Richmond Hill High School graduating seniors, that journey began Saturday at the Class of 2016 commencement exercises when they were handed their high school diplomas.
Held in the Martin Luther King Jr. Arena at the Savannah Civic Center, there was a common theme among the commencement speakers — thanking those who helped the students during their long and often arduous journey.
“All of these people — family, friends and teachers — are the reason we have made it this far,” Senior Class Vice President Corinna Shimalla said. “Be sure to thank all the people who pushed you to this accomplishment.”
Salutatorian Charles Castle echoed those thoughts, saying all graduates owed “a huge thanks” to their parents.
“Each and every one of us have had unique experiences, and we have to thank them for that. Peer experiences have also been unique and personal. Let’s look forward. Graduation is not the end, it is the beginning,” said Castle, who was voted by his classmates as “Most Likely to Change the World.”
Valedictorian Kevin Zhu brought a roar from the thousands of parents, relatives and friends in the viewing stands — along with his fellow students — when he yelled enthusiastically, “Just do it!”
“Remember, you are not alone,” he said. “The world might be scary. Don’t be afraid to get out and make friends. You can make your dreams come true.”
Zhu told his fellow graduates to get out and become someone “each and every one of us can be proud of.”
Senior Class President Jacquelyn Buelow capped the comments by telling the graduates to “keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”
A little less than 90 minutes after it began, the commencement exercise — along with 12 years of hard work — was over, and the Richmond Hill High School Class of 2016 marched off to make its mark on the world.