Lord Botetourt High School graduated its 58th class of seniors Monday night at the Salem Civic Center.
A crowd of family and friends was seated in the stands and offered cheers for the Class of 2017 and individual graduates during the commencement when the 224 seniors received their diplomas.
Caleb Beckner led his class academically and was valedictorian, and Emily D’Arpa was salutatorian.
SCA President Alexia Heck welcomed her classmates and the audience, and in her address she ask her classmates to never forget their teachers, their friends, their teammates.
“Choose to be positive and do great things everyday,” she said.
She told the class during her senior project she interviewed other students, and one of her friends, Heather Finley, offered advice she shared, “Life isn’t fair so you take the time you have and make the most of it everyday,” told her classmates.
In his valedictory address, Beckner shared a verse from Matthew, and told his classmates they should follow the advice and “not stress ourselves in life.”
D’Arpa asked her classmates to extend the excitement they had in kindergarten to their future.
School Superintendent John Busher told the students and the audience a concern he has is, “Sid we prepare you for life?”
Things change, he told them, and referred to the coming year’s kindergartners and how things are expected to be very different by the time they are seniors.
“What’s the constant?” he asked. “The people in your life.”
He told the seniors they need people skills, and he told their parents their “job is not over.” He said he’d recently reread the book “All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and shared some those admonitions.
He also quoted Albert Einstein, who said, “Imagination is more important than fact.”
Principal Andy Dewease acknowledged the many people involved in the students’ education over their 13 years in public schools.
He reinforced what Busher told the students about what they would need in the workforce. Among other things, he said they would need to be problem solvers, think critically, be creative, work well with others, and be emotionally intelligent.
“It’s now your responsibility to spread your wings,” he said.
— Ed McCoy