BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Graduates of West Brunswick High School not only received diplomas as they walked across the stage Saturday at Odell Williamson Auditorium, but also a handshake from the United States Attorney General Eric Holder.
Holder said he had just one thing to tell the graduates.
"We're counting on you,” United States Attorney General Eric Holder said. “We're relying on you to use the abilities that you've demonstrated over the last four years to make your mark on the world, by serving your communities, by bettering our nation and by enriching the lives of others."
Class Valedictorian Taylor Hewett said she was impressed and inspired by the fact that Holder started out like her, in a public high school.
"He went to law school. He went through college, and then he became the Attorney General of the United States,” Hewett said. “I mean, that is such a big accomplishment for someone who was just like us. It gives me hope for what I and my classmates can accomplish as well."
Just as the graduates have great expectations for themselves, first year West Brunswick High Principal Jamal Woods expects big accomplishments from the Class of 2011.
"I'm hoping to find that through our class we'll have the next Attorney General, the next Commander in Chief, the next high-ranking official in the military or public safety offices such as firepersons, police officers, hopefully the next person to find the cure for cancer,” Woods said.
Holder challenged the students to improve our world for the next generation. He motivated them with the story of students who played a key role in our country's Civil Rights Movement over 50 years ago.
"I can recall the excitement that was felt when four young North Carolina college students, who were bound by a shared hope and by a bold untested idea, sat down at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro and put their idea into action,” Holder said. “The next day, a picture of these young African American men sitting in a whites only stool section appeared on the cover of the Greensboro Record. That photo's three-word caption really said it all: 'students begin movement.'"
The now alumni of West Brunswick High are ready for the challenges and opportunities that await them. Hewett is headed to Clemson University to work toward a career as a pediatric orthodontist.
"I'm very excited. I'm happy to graduate,” Hewett said. “I'm kind of sad about leaving all my friends and family, but I'm excited for what the future holds."
"They themselves should take the bull by the horns, not back down to any challenge, and even challenge the status quo to make an even better future,” Principal Woods said.
Attorney General Holder was asked to speak at the graduation by his personal friends, who also happen to be parents of one of the graduates.
Holder told the class our world is waiting to see what they will do with their ideas, ideals and imaginations.