St. James grads ‘move forward to bright horizons’

  • Thursday, June 12, 2014

Anita Crone/For South Strand News Principal Vann Pennell texts a message just before he takes the stage.


More than 300 students, their families and friends, gathered Friday at the Palace Theatre in Myrtle Beach to say goodbye to high school and hello to the rest of their lives. The St. James High School Class of 2014 gave principal Vann Pennell his wish – they shared with him their history as he shared with them his appreciation. This class entered the school with Pennell in 2010.

It was also the largest graduating class in school history, filling the main theater sections to the R row, and many of the students sported ribbons and cords indicating honor status.

For all of them though, as honor graduate Duncan Fultineer pointed out, “it has been a privilege to hear the speeches of 300 or so people – so much better than reading the words of some old, dead dudes.”

He cited the bond forged over the years as being Sharks, the friendships forged by going through puberty together.

“It’s a wonder we’re still friends,” he said, looking out over the audience.

Salutatorian Rhylee DeCrane stressed the importance of the diplomas – “not an ordinary piece of paper to be put in a scrapbook or filed away.”

And, she pushed the importance of high school as “the best times of our lives, even if we could only drive for about half of it.”

“There’s so much to be done and so little to stand in our way,” she said.

For her, the next stop is Mississippi State, where she’s set her sights on playing goal for the Bulldogs soccer team.

Academically, she plans to major in bioengineering, or at the least some scientific research.

She knows, she says, that it won’t help with her biggest issue: Procrastinating, a subject she touched on in her speech.

Valedictorian Tindall Ouverson of Murrells Inlet took the opportunity in her speech to reference the ocean – something that she is intimately concerned about. “We stand on the shores of an ocean, mist curling around the waves and eddies, obscuring the horizon of our future.”

She brought her classmates into her talk, noting that they are together one last time.

“Let us move forward to bright horizons,” she said.

And so, one by one, students received their diplomas under the watchful eyes of the junior marshals.

One last time, Pennell exhorted the parents to withhold applause until all the diplomas were awarded. And for once, the crowd responded.

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