SHS awards degrees to 2013 graduates

SALEM- The 156 members of the 2013 graduating class at Salem High School were encouraged to live every day to its fullest at the school’s 149th annual commencement ceremony Sunday afternoon in the John A. Cabas Gymnasium.

Valedictorian Lester Chilton told his classmates to embrace the eventuality of death as they create a lasting legacy.

“Too often we think to ourselves that we have 70 or 80 years, we can worry about things later,” he said. “But that isn’t always true. We have to live our lives with the knowledge that it will come to an end.”

Citing deaths on the faculty and student body this past year, Chilton reminded the graduates to seize the day because it could be their last.

“From this point forward, what is it you’ll do to leave a legacy behind, what are people going to remember about you when you’re gone,” he said. “I urge you to follow your dreams and careers, but don’t forget the people around you. Dream like you’ll live forever, but live every day like it might be your last.”

Class President William Erskine led the Pledge of Allegiance. In his message to the graduates, he challenged his classmates to stay positive and strive to be great, touch the lives of others and make a lasting impression.

In his welcome Superintendent Tom Bratten also touched on the graduates legacies.

“It’s now time to move on, rise to the occasion,” he said. “As individuals, your legacy is still a work in progress. I challenge you to strive for greatness and settle for nothing less.”

School Board President Andrew Null told the graduates to enjoy each day since nothing more is guaranteed beyond the present moment. He said the graduates should be open to changes, avoid dwelling on highs or lows, never stop learning, develop a patience of and knowledge for finances and willing to give of themselves.

Chorale members of the senior class performed “Born to be Somebody” and Barbara Butler Greene (’44) performed the Alma Mater.

Kevin Howell can be reached at