Palm Beach Central High School bid farewell to its Class of 2018 on Monday, May 21 at the South Florida Fairgrounds Expo Center.
The graduating class of some 700 students leaves behind a unique legacy comprised of not only record-setting test scores and athletic abilities, but also of extraordinary philanthropic school involvement, Principal Darren Edgecomb said.
“The strength and perseverance you gained throughout the last three years truly enabled you to finish strong,” he said. “This class has left us with an amazing legacy, [and] Palm Beach Central is a better place simply because you were a part of it. Be proud of the legacy you have left behind.”
Edgecomb, who began his time as principal during the Class of 2018’s freshman year, expressed the overwhelming amount of pride he felt as the graduates prepared to cross the stage to receive their diploma.
“It is my great honor to share this special day with you, as I look into the audience — at all 725 of you — my cup runneth over,” he said. “My heart is full, and my emotions are high. I have never made it a secret that this class has always been my favorite class. This is because I love you and have such high aspirations for you. It has been a privilege and an honor to be able to share the last four years of ‘firsts’ with you.”
Edgecomb left the graduating seniors with one simple message: Palm Beach Central will always be home to the new Bronco alumni.
“Class of 2018, you will always hold a special place in my heart. As you graduate and move forward into the next chapter of your lives, live strong. Never forget the lessons learned at Central, and always remember that this is your home. If you ever feel homesick, just press the buzzer at the front office, and I will let you in,” Edgecomb said.
New Palm Beach County School Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy acknowledged the collaborative amount of hard work that it takes to get students on track to succeed and, ultimately, receive a high school diploma.
“Dearest teachers and guests, I would like to thank you for the personal investment in the students walking across the stage today,” Fennoy said.
He went on to emphasize the fact that the graduates will always rely on the people in their lives in order to achieve success, and that thanking those people is a vital part of that success. “Saying thank you is the very tenant of our humanity,” Fennoy said.
Embodying the legacy that Edgecomb described is this year’s valedictorian, Brandon Truong. Truong served as president of the Key Club, was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and the National Honor Society, and was a Pathfinder nominee. Truong will be studying computer science and economics at Princeton University in the fall.
Truong emphasized individual potential in his speech. By creating an example of himself, Truong encouraged his peers to work hard in order to create their own versions of success without the influence of social expectations.
“When did grade point average, rank and status become more important than the person underneath it all? Society has determined our success by the ranking of class. Valedictorian — all that this title means is that I was good at taking tests,” he said. “In reality, I am not better than any of you. Life is no contest, and everyone has the same potential for genuine happiness. We are all number one in our own right.”
Truong encouraged the graduating seniors to not let their failures or their pasts define their futures.
“You might have thought that you weren’t the best athlete or student, so I urge you all to search for your gift, and, once you find your gift, pursue it vigorously. Do not fear failure. No past achievement guarantees success, and no lack of current achievement determines who you can be,” Truong said.
Salutatorian Aleecia Marshall also encouraged her peers to always be courageous in pursuing their future goals and dreams, and to never be afraid of change.
“Though most of us have spent the last nine months looking forward to this day, now that it is here, some wish for more time,” she said. “It has been said that change is the only thing that is constant in life, and with change comes uncertainty.”
Marshall explained that this year’s graduation was the first big change of many changes to come for the graduates within the next few years, but that the key to embracing change is to look for the positive attributes of change that result in individual growth.
“The unpredictability of life often causes us to be placed in situations that lead us to learn more and grow as individuals, and it is undeniable that, in recent months, we have gone through experiences that will further our growth,” she said. “Fellow graduates, I encourage you to not be afraid of change in this exciting and scary time, as we move on to our next phase in life. Remember, change is not the end of your story.”
Marshall was an active member of the high school’s Mathematics Honor Society, Beta Club, Interact and National Honor Society. She will study chemical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall.