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Neal honors 84 grads

As 84 seniors participated in the 80th graduation ceremonies at W.S. Neal High School Friday words of encouragement, challenges and a bright future were shared by valedictorian Dwight Burnham and salutatorian Monica Dunn.

Burnham congratulated his fellow classmates for long years of work and dedication.

“The 13 years of hard work we have put in have paid off,” Burnham said. “We now move on to the future through this transition in our lives. I urge each of you to meet the transition with a positive outlook on the future.”

Dunn also congratulated the members of her class while giving thanks to God for her accomplishments.

“This will be our last time to be together as a class,” Dunn said. “I want to thank the one person who has made my being here possible. I have accomplished everything I have because of God.”

Burnham also encouraged his classmates to meet the world with optimism and hope as he concluded his address.

Randall Little, assistant superintendent for the Escambia County School System and former assistant principal at W.S. Neal, was the keynote speaker for Friday’s ceremonies.

As he addressed students, faculty, staff and family, he presented three challenges to the graduates of 2010.

“I challenge you to commit yourselves to excellence,” Little said. “In whatever you do, make the most of your God-given ability. A little thing is a little thing, but doing it well is excellence.”

Little told students the importance of having character throughout their lives in his address.

“I also challenge you to commit yourselves to character,” Little said. “Character is having the courage to do what is right regardless of the consequences. Do not lose site of what is truly important. If you only remember one thing from what I have said to you tonight, remember this — character matters. The survival of our country and our way of life depends on it.”

As Little concluded his address, he challenged students to consider serving others.

“Finally, I challenge you to commit yourselves to service to others,” Little said. “Success is not measured by what you get out of life, but by what you give back. As you drive away from W.S. Neal High School I also challenge you to always strive to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

Following the completion of Little’s address, W.S. Neal high School Principal Phillip Ellis presented students diplomas.

The tradition to present the first diploma to the class valedictorian was followed with Burnham as the recipient. Salutatorian Monica Dunn received the second diploma followed by the remaining top 12 students and the entire graduating class of 2010.