Decision time

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, May 28, 2014

CREEKSVILLE – They used to call it ‘Class Night’, when graduating high school seniors stood with their peers before parents, family and friends and were celebrated for their scholarship accomplishments as well as being congratulated for revealing their plans for the future.

Northampton County High School held a similar event on Thursday in the school gym and called their 2014 version: “Decision Day”.

“We recognize our seniors for the hard work they’ve done during their four years here in high school,” said NCHS principal Felecia Whitaker.  “We bring them together before the entire student body and announce to the whole school all the colleges, universities, trade schools, military, wherever they have been accepted and all their letters of acceptance are read and we let everyone know what the decision is they have made.”

Whitaker says while it’s a badge of accomplishment for those who will receive a diploma in just a few weeks, it also serves as encouragement for the younger students.

“The importance of it is that it shows all of our underclass students what all the hard work of being in high school is all about,” the principal added. “It’s about being college and career ready.”

Freshman, sophomore, and junior students aren’t the only ones who participate.  Rising high schoolers from the county’s Middle Schools are also there to take in the activities.

“We invite our eighth-graders over to share in this activity today because we want them to start right now with a plan,” Whitaker continued. “They need to have a plan in mind and hopefully when they see these students, the Class of 2014, standing up and given accolades for the colleges and other things (which they’ve been accepted), and then that’s going to encourage them to work all the more harder when they get here to prepare for their futures.”

Northampton invited noted motivational speaker Dr. Danny Ellis of Ellis Consulting in Wilson to address the group.  Ellis said crafting one’s future at a young age begins with the ‘Four-D’s’: desire, direction, discipline, and determination.  He elaborated on beginning his career first with 20 years of military service before later going on to attaining his Ph.D.

“Education is the great equalizer,” Ellis told the students.  “It’s not about where you’ve been, it’s all about where you’re going. It’s about making decisions and how those plans come together; because if you don’t make a decision, life is going to make one for you.

“A dream without resources is just a hallucination,” he concluded.

The students took his words to heart.

“I was inspired to see other people I knew do good things,” said senior Tayvon Dickerson. “I was excited to one day be standing in those same places.”

Larry Scott, a future graduate, says he hopes to get his sports management certificate in technical school and return to help others through education.

“I’m ready for the next step,” Scott exclaimed. “I want to come back and help (NCHS guidance counselor) Mrs. Putney.”

Dequnia Whitaker, bound for Halifax Community College to study business and early childhood education, is proud of her roots. “It’s special because this is where I was born, where I was raised and this is where I’m going to start off college,” she said. “Northampton County High has prepared me to help others and to strive for the best.”

Austin Watkins turned down a big college, UNC-Chapel Hill, to attend a smaller one, Campbell University.

“I want to be a pharmacist,” he declared. “They (Campbell) have a good program and a smaller program which kind of reminds me of home, and I think that will be a better fit for me.”

As the assembly wound down and the students headed back to classrooms, off to finish their final weeks of schooling, the principal reflected on the enthusiasm the day had presented.

“Baccalaureate is so formal and graduation is so formal,” Whitaker intoned as the students filed past headed for their various busses. “Decision Day is more like a pep rally where we can just acknowledge the hard work of the students and they can congratulate and support each other.”