Chelsea seniors celebrate graduation

BIRMINGHAM -Chelsea High School Principal Wayne Trucks reminded all 275 graduates that they are loved and cared about before they received their diplomas on Wednesday, May 24 at the Pete Hanna Center at Samford University.

“This is an absolutely wonderful achievement. Celebrate where you are,” Trucks said. “It’s not just us. As you look around, there are people who care about each and every one of you. Each of you has someone here to celebrate this occasion with you. Celebrate those who love you, and celebrate those who you love.”

The ChHS graduation ceremony began at 2 p.m., and opened with welcoming remarks from senior class president Mark Hamilton. Senior class vice-president Patrick Marshall led the Pledge of Allegiance, and graduate Kayla Wood sang the Carrie Underwood song, “Whenever You Remember.”

During her address, salutatorian Lauren Mims urged her fellow graduates and their loved ones in the audience to make the most of every second, stay positive and be grateful.

“The story doesn’t stop here. Now, we have the opportunity to take what we have learned and apply it to our lives. We are all turning to a blank page,” Mims said.

Valedictorian Kayley Dotson began her address on a humorous note.

“I’d just like to give a subtle disclaimer: I’m not a speech-writer,” Dotson joked. “I just want to go ahead and apologize to the family or friends that drove or flew here for hours that were expecting to be inspired. It might inspire you to clap when it’s over, but that’s because it’s probably going to be the best part.”

Throughout her address, she encouraged the class of 2017 to cherish their memories at ChHS.

“Four years isn’t that long, is it? In the grand scheme of things, four years seems like nothing,” Dotson said. “However, these past four years have been almost all we’ve ever known. Right now, for all of us, it’s the biggest adventure we have experienced. We will remember the four years that molded us and shaped us into who we will become.”

She also expressed her appreciation for her classmates, teachers and community.

“I know the support of everyone is what got most of us through high school. To those brave few who have decided to dedicate their lives for our country, we cannot thank you or salute you enough,” Dotson said. “Thank you, class of 2017, for being the best class to ever grace Chelsea High.”

Before the graduates walked across the stage, Trucks took a few moments to share some words of wisdom with them. According to Trucks, there are three simple things that create challenges for everyone: “place, stuff and time.”

“Whether or not you’re philosophical or religious, I find it very difficult to argue that there’s a randomness to all of us being here today. Each of us has the opportunity to be helpful to one another. Sometimes it seems that life is a competition, and whoever has the most stuff wins. We decide what’s important. We decide what we value. Our stuff does not, and should not, define who we are,” Trucks said. “There is no guarantee of another day, another week or another month. Each day is an opportunity to make choices that impact ourselves and others in a positive way.”

More photos of the 2017 ChHS graduation available online at Shelbycountyphotos.com.