ABERDEEN — Fifty-six Aberdeen graduates are on their way as they celebrated their graduation from high school Thursday evening.
Valedictorian Taetem Simms asked her classmates, "What do you want to be?
"We are graduating from high school and have earned the right to follow our dreams," she said. "You must have the courage to follow your dream and work for it.
"Trust in your abilities, your friends, your family and trust in God," Simms said. "Be proud of your decisions and your accomplishments."
Two AHS teachers, Joe Ingersoll and Tim Satterfield, shared the honor to address the Class of 2011.
"We are all extremely proud of you—parents, teachers, staff," said Ingersoll. "It's the best part of education—to participate in and celebrate graduation.
"This is a great opportunity to ask for money," he added.
Satterfield quoted Mark Train who said, "'I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.'"
"Who are you?" Ingersoll asked the graduates. "Do not ever forget that our individuality is what makes our nation strong; it's not the sameness.
"Be proud of who you are," he said. "Do not feed off of resentment of someone else to make yourself stronger.
"You possess all you have need of to succeed," Ingersoll said.
Amber Gonzales told her classmates, "Take pride in who you are. Have faith in how far you will go."
Each year, the Aberdeen High School (AHS) faculty and staff vote for the student who did the most service, was the best citizen and who displayed championship character (male and female).
Gonzales was named the student who had given the most service in her four years at AHS.
This year the citizenship award ended in a tie.
"We've never had a tie before," said AHS principal Travis Pincock.
Chaney Powell and Angela Serna won citizenship awards for representing AHS in the community.
Taetem Simms was voted the female championship character. J.J. Beck won the male championship character.
Each year, members of the graduating class give their principal a gift. The Class of 2011 gave Pincock an aquarium, complete with lots of goldfish.
As each student's name was announced, he or she handed Pincock a styrofoam container. After the ceremony, Pincock filled the aquarium with soil, marbles and goldfish.
Each year, students give the principal a unique gift. For example, each student in the class of 2010 gave him 10 dimes. He has also received pennies and candy other years.
The AHS Band performed the processional and recessional. The senior class sang the class song, "I'm On My Way."