, Muskogee, OK

May 25, 2013

MHS seniors start a new chapter

Graduates hear words of encouragement

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Moments before Muskogee High School’s commencement ceremony Friday, senior Brittani Dugan read what other people wrote in her gift book.

“I was a varsity cheerleader, and all the cheerleaders and teachers signed it,” Dugan said, adding that she felt “extremely sad because they have been my teammates for four years.”

Dugan and 291 other members of the MHS Class of 2013 must now write their own stories.

Speaker after speaker at the ceremony reminded the prospective graduates of that notion.

Senior Nicholas Simon quoted from writer Barabara Taylor Bradford: “We are the authors of our own lives.”

“Some of us might be uncertain of our destinies,” Simon told his classmates. “We must hold on to our dreams. We must focus.”

He said people could choose to go the low road, which is the “easy way out,” or the high road, which “is full of hope.”

Principal Dewayne Pemberton also encouraged seniors to take the right road, the school’s own Rougher ROAD to Success. He reminded seniors what the ROAD stands for: Respect. Opportunity. Achievement. Determination.

Pemberton said seniors showed achievement by earning more than $4.1 million in scholarships.

“The sky is the limit,” he said. “It’s up to you to make it happen. The teachers opened the doors. It is up to you to walk through it.”

In the McEntee Address, Mattlyn Dragoo recalled how nervous she felt the first time she stepped through the school’s doors. Now, she said, four years later, MHS graduates are entering a world that is “new and exciting, but also scary.”

“Things we did and did not do brought us here today,” Dragoo said.

MHS senior Jacob Hiller fulfilled his promise to classmate Eric Skulich. Immediately before the ceremony, he gave Skulich his painting of two video game characters.

“He wanted it a long time ago,” Hiller said.

“The painting was two years in the making,” Skulich said.

“It took me two days to do it,” Hiller said. “I actually finished it an hour ago.”

In the Stern Address, Dylan Oney told his fellow graduates there would be many times they fall down. The difference is how they view the obstacles.

“Negative people see difficulty in every opportunity,” he said. “Positive people see opportunity in every difficulty.”

He reminded the seniors that every day poses a new opportunity.

Oney went back to the subject of graduates being authors of their own destinies. “May your books be very long and end with ‘happily ever after,” he said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or