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Henley High School’s Class of 2017 chose its motto by focusing on the future. Its motto is, “We’re just getting started.”

“From this point forward, you are the ones who will determine what those years of preparation will become,” Vice Principal Andrea Armantrout told the assembled 144 graduates. “As you prepare to cross the stage today, you are poised at a moment in your life where your future beckons. The future you will create.”

Speeches from valedictorians and salutatorians offered words to mark the momentous day on Sunday, words to inspire and words to advise their fellow students.

“Today is finally the day,” said salutatorian Holly Phelps. “The seed we planted four years ago has grown into something great. We can finally see who we have grown up to be, and where we are headed in the future.”

“You will always remember you are a Henley High School graduate,” said valedictorian Alexis Harris. “Even if we don’t remember what we learned in Mr. Woodrum’s government class, we will all remember being raised by a wonderful community of teachers, administrators, parents and friends.”

Succeeding

The best way to thank all those who helped, said valedictorian Tyler Pettigrew, is to succeed in life.

“Go out into the world and pursue your wildest dreams. Do what makes you happy and make the most of the opportunities that have been given to you,” he said. “Be the best chef, the best farmer, the best doctor, businessman, husband or wife — and most importantly, be the best you that you can be.”

Other valedictorians had words of wisdom to share.

“Learn to fail, focus on the process, and take risks ahead on as you move into the next chapter of your life,” valedictorian McKenna Armantrout said. “Only those who risk going too far can find out how far it is possible to go.”

Valedictorian Starla Chambrose gave advice on what not to do. Don’t be just a dreamer. Don’t be too patient.

“Dreaming isn’t good enough. To do is to achieve. So, be a doer,” she said. “Patience is not always a virtue. We must make our own opportunities and be unwavering in our search for success.”

Proverbs, lessons

Principal Jack Lee also had words of wisdom for his students. He used the bamboo plant as the support for his speech, giving old proverbs and life lessons from the plant that can grow 90 feet in six days.

“Like the bamboo, I want you to stand tall, believe in your own strengths and know that you are as strong as you need to be. Commit yourself to growth and renewal. Today you have a tremendous potential for growth,” Lee said.

“If you have not given up, then you are growing. You just may not see it until much later. How fast or how slow is not the main concern, only that you’re moving forward.”

Henley’s ceremony included recognizing students for two major awards: the Henley Faculty Cup and the Mike Keck Memorial Scholarship. Tyler Pettigrew won the faculty cup and McKenna Armantrout won the Mike Keck award.

Vice Principal Andrea Armantrout finished her speech by telling the graduates to be present for this moment, then start head-first into their futures.

“Celebrate this milestone. Take a look around you. Soak up this moment because this is the only one of them you will ever get,” she said. “But when you wake tomorrow: Care, risk, dream and expect. After all, you’re just getting started.”