Lake Norman High School honored its 2022 graduates on Friday morning, praising them for their perseverance and resilience in earning diplomas despite the unprecedented pandemic challenges thrown into their paths during their educational journey.

Graduates entered the Wildcats’ stadium to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, performed by the LNHS Wind Ensemble under the direction of Chris Brown. The Wildcat Vocal Symphony then performed the Alma Mater “Alis Volat Propriis.”

After presentation of the colors by Boy Scout Troop 171, senior Jordyn Trimberger sang the National Anthem, followed by Senior Class President Brigid Salvato’s welcome to graduates and attendees and introduction of special guests, I-SS School Board Chair Todd Carver and I-SS Executive Director of Secondary Education Kelly Cooper.

Salvato noted the special challenges her fellow graduates faced with the COVID-19 epidemic, but the support of parents and teachers helped them succeed.

“Our high school experience was anything but normal. What started as two weeks turned into two long years of struggle. We were separated from our friends and missing the high school years we had so looked forward to.”

“As much as we may complain about the long school days, I think all of us have come to realize how great it was to be back. We got back our senior nights, and we finally got back Friday night football.”

“Like many of you, I’m excited for what lies ahead, but I will miss what we had here. As we prepare to go our separate ways, what can the next four years hold for us? Whatever it is, we are ready,” Salvato confidently proclaimed.

Principal Bill Shapcott thanked graduates and parents for their “resiliency while negotiating through this pandemic. We were all looking forward to a better future.”

Shapcott noted that students had learned much about about themselves “as all have overcome any and all hurdles to reach today’s accomplishment. I want to recognize your families for the broad and strong shoulders you have all stood on for strength through your high school years.”

As the graduates fan out to through future plans, Shapcott said they “will change lives and make a difference in this world, and for that, we are forever grateful and proud of our graduates.”

Honors speaker Preston Aldridge joked about falling for the “Lake Norman” swimming pool prank as a freshman and the sophomore spring break that lasted until their junior year. “When we finally came back to school our senior year, I barely recognized anyone.”

“COVID has affected us in many negative ways, but it has also led us to be more independent, aware, and capable young adults. As we go out into a world returning to normal, we need to take with us the resilience we learned through this once in a lifetime situation.”

“We will face many hardships, as we have already, but there’s always a silver lining. We have grown so much through our personal experiences, and these situations will continue to shape us as we move onward. Through these struggles we discovered our passions.”

Aldridge then recognized several students’ accomplishments, including turning a love for baking into a business, finding a passion for event planning after organizing the prom, and starting podcasts.

He urged graduates to find the thing in their lives that challenges and rewards them. “As the wise Snoop Dogg once said, ‘If it’s flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it you do, you have to master your craft.’ ”

Aldridge advised using their passion to help them succeed. “Our passion may be directed toward helping others,” noting one senior’s many hours volunteering at the Mooresville Back to School Bash and another’s organizing a Bible study for peers.

“At the end of the day, what we give to others is what really matters most. Never forget the relationships we’ve made, and never stop giving to one another.”

Aldridge ended his speech by urging three pieces of advice, “Be passionate in what you do, love one another, and remember that after walking across that stage today, we’ll all be hotter by one degree.”

Honors speaker Emma Stolberg remembered her anxious in her first days at LNHS and her growth over the past four years. “I learned that life is not a continuous cycle of tests but is more about a cycle of experiences, good and bad.”

After time apart during their junior year, this year “the world opened back up, and the human spirit entered.”

Though unable to completely capture their high school experiences, Stolbergg said, “I do know we did not write this chapter without the guidance of our families, friends, teachers, and coaches.”

“We stand on the shoulders of these people who helped form the foundation of experiences that we have built over the last four years and that we will need as we write the next chapter of our book of life.”

Stolberg ended with a quotation by Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.”

She advised “throwing away bow lines, sailing away from safe harbor, and catching the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.”

After the speeches, the LNHS Senior Chorus performed a rousing rendition of Natasha’ Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” with seniors clapping along to the song that urged them to throw off inhibitions and write on the blank page of life before them.

After presentation of diplomas, Shapcott took a last selfie with the cheering Class of 2022 and declared the celebrating seniors as graduates.

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