With the beginning of her graduation ceremony only minutes away Friday night, Cullman High School senior Brooke Nixon already had her eyes on the future.

“After this, I’m going to Wallace State and then I’m going to own my own bakery,” she said. “But, I am going to miss my amazing teachers.”

Nixon was joined by 167 other Cullman High School students this weekend to take part in the school’s graduation commencement.

“What we are is God’s gift to us, but what we become is our gift to God,” class president Claire Bowman said. “We are finally here.”

Bowman also thanked her fellow classmates for their hard work and determination.

“Tonight’s graduation is a culmination of the commitment made on the first day of kindergarten all the way to now,” she said. “Thanks to my whole class for the hard work and commitment we’ve shown throughout the years.”

Salutatorian Stevie Bailey took a different approach from the usual graduation theme of looking ahead, and instead encouraged the class of 2009 to savor the present.

“We are about to embark on an all new chapter of our lives, leaving childhood and high school behind,” she said. “Let’s not miss out on the joys of the present by focusing on the joys of the future ... This moment will be the last time you’ll be sitting in a room with all of the people who have challenged and inspired you the last 12 years.”

Valedictorian Viet Huynh, a national merit scholar, offered a personal speech for his fellow classmates.

“I could not be more proud to stand here and speak before all of my friends,” he said. “Graduation isn’t about a handshake, or a photo op in a cap and gown ... it’s about how close we are and the people here at Cullman High School.”

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jan Harris also offered some words of wisdom to the departing seniors.

“Know your purpose in life,” she said. “If you don’t know, try to figure it out — the sooner the better.”

Harris also announced the class of 2009 was awarded approximately $2.7 million in scholarships.

“Seniors, I am so proud of your many accomplishments,” she said.

Sheila Phillips, CHS principal, also commended the class on its many accolades.

“You were freshmen my first year here and it has been a delight to watch you all grow up,” she said. “The character and citizenship you have displayed is evident in so many ways.”

‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 225.

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