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Suwannee High senior Ashley Robinson blows a kiss after receiving her diploma.

LIVE OAK — On the night their high school careers ended, Class President Marisley Leal took the Suwannee High Class of 2019 on a trip back in time.

Leal encouraged her classmates to go back and become more like the kindergarteners and first graders they once were.

Leal said those young students were full of questions and curiosity about the world around them. But that curiosity got lost along the way to Saturday night’s commencement exercises at Langford Stadium.

“Go ask questions and then go answer them,” she said. “Go educate yourself. Education is a fruit with seeds of opportunities.

“I want to challenge you to explore the world around you and learn.”

As the 269 members of the SHS graduating class go and explore that world, salutatorian Sarah McWaters shared a motto she hopes they take with them. McWaters said while she learned the motto from her family when she began her volleyball career, it applies to all aspects of life.

“It’s a simple three letter word, ACE,” she said, adding that hardships will greet every person at some point in their life moving forward. “The only three things you can control are: A - Attitude; C - Concentration; and E - Effort.

“Dwelling on other things will only lead to unnecessary stress and anger.”

Fellow salutatorian Alexis Fletcher thanked the teachers and coaches that helped get her and the rest of the graduates to this point and the lessons they taught along the way: passion, determination and perseverance.

In speaking to what she called the “best class to walk through the halls of Suwannee High School,” Fletcher told her classmates that great things are in store for them.

McWaters also said she couldn’t wait to see what the future looked like for the graduating class.

They were not alone.

“Class of 2019, I have high hopes for the future and I have high hopes for you,” Principal Ronnie Gray said. “I hope you realize sooner than later the elevator to success is out of order. You will have to take the stairs.

“You will have to do the work, pay the dues and make the needed sacrifices to become successful.”

Daniel Hendrick, the valedictorian for the Class of 2019, said they already have done the work, paid the dues and made the sacrifices in order to get to this stage of life.

Hendrick said he hoped they would now repay the help they received along the way in order to shape the next generation of Suwannee County.

“You have discovered who you are over these four years,” Hendrick said. “Each one of you is amazing, talented and fully equipped to conquer the world around you.

“Finally I encourage you to go into the world with charisma and confidence, knowing that you are ready for everything the world may throw at you.”

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