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Wetumpka High seniors await their turn to receive their diplomas Thursday night in Montgomery. Photo by Kevin Taylor
Wetumpka High seniors await their turn to receive their diplomas Thursday night in Montgomery. Photo by Kevin Taylor

Area seniors receive diplomas

Published 9:00am Monday, May 26, 2014

In common with high school graduations across the country, Holtville High’s Tuesday night ceremony combined joy and sadness. But for the HHS Class of 2014 there was an added measure of sadness beyond the usual realization a chapter in the seniors’ lives was coming to an end.

An empty chair bearing a flower and blue ribbons pinned to green and white robes were visible reminders of the absence of Gabe Livingston, who lost his battle with cancer during his junior year.

Livingston was remembered in the speeches of Dr. Jimmy Hull, principal, co-salutatorians Danielle Oates and Sara Tyler and valedictorian Hayden Willis.

“Gabe should have graduated tonight,” Hull said. “There is an empty chair back there where he would have sat.”

A mortarboard and diploma were  presented to Leah Livingston, Gabe’s mother, in remembrance of her son.

Guest speaker for the commencement exercises was David Martin, a 1984 Holtville High School alumnus.

“When times get tough – and they will get tough – you need a good foundation,” Martin told the seniors. “You’ve gotten that here.

“Life is staring you in the face. It’s tough and you need to plan ahead. I ask you graduates what is your plan? Are you looking forward or back?”

Oates assured her classmates they were prepared for the future.

“Our school, our families and the community have molded us to stand firm,” she said. “We are ready for the next step.”

Tyler encouraged the Class of 2014 to “live life to the fullest, but don’t be careless.”

And she reminded them they had successfully navigated challenges before.

“We entered the doors of kindergarten with excitement and nervousness raging inside of us, and I know many of us feel the same way now,” she said.

Willis shared an observation by Theodore Roosevelt.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing and the worst thing you can do is nothing,” she quoted.

Willis urged her fellow students to not be afraid to make decisions and chart their own paths.

This year’s graduation was Hull’s last as principal at Holtville High. He is transferring to a job as principal of the Elmore County Technical Center.

“You seniors are my 10th and final class so you’re really special to me,” he said. “But tonight is about you.

“Life will get harder with every level, but you’re prepared for it.”

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