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Graduation packs a punch
Glad grad
D.J. Braston walks the stage and receives his high school diploma Friday night at Nunley Stadium.

For a group of teens about to snatch their diplomas and run headfirst into an unforgiving world, WCHS salutatorian Samantha Bratcher issued some gentle words of advice.
“Most of us still don’t know how to do the laundry,” said Bratcher.
They may not know delicate or spin, but 435 WCHS seniors know how it feels to graduate after walking the stage Friday night at Nunley Stadium.
“You can’t climb the ladder to success with your hands in your pocket,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox moments before handing out diplomas. “Take every opportunity you can to make the most of your life.”
Cox told the soon-to-be graduates he was sitting in their place 30 years ago to the day. He told them not to run away from their fears because that will prevent them from achieving their full potential.
Student body president C.J. Hale and senior class president Makayla Stubblefield reminded students how the world has changed in their 18 short years.
“Bill Clinton was president when we were born,” said Hale. “Now he could be the first lady.”
In putting the role of technology in perspective, Stubblefield said, “One of the main things in our lives is our cellphones.”
In another way the world has changed in the past 18 years, Hale said, “The word ‘terrorist’ was not known when we were born in 1997.”
Valedictorian Ella Hale urged her classmates not to become complacent.
“Do not allow yourself to peak in high school,” said Hale, who noted that years from now being captain of the football team shouldn’t be anyone’s top accomplishment. “If what you’re doing doesn’t challenge you, it will not change you.”
The valedictorian when on to say the class of 2016 will be the doctors, politicians, and reality TV stars of the future. “We can achieve greatness,” she said.
Bratcher said sometimes the best companion is a little luck. She said that was the case when she was adopted from China.
“There were hundreds of kids with the same story and they picked me,” said Bratcher. “You don’t have to find a cure for cancer or graduate from an Ivy League school to make a difference. All you have to do is make an impact on one life.”
The ceremony featured two songs from the WCHS choir, “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.
Tyler Morton played guitar and sang the Tim McGraw song “Humble and Kind.”