Central grads chart new course

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Jun 03, 2013
Photo by: Jessi Stone Central Haywood High School graduate Cherish Hunter gives a kiss to her cousin Riley Dickey after the graduation ceremony at Haywood Community College.

Before seniors walked across the stage to receive their high school diploma Friday, Central High School Principal Jeff Haney challenged all 17 of them to use that diploma to take them as far as they could go.

“A diploma is like a sail on a ship — it will take you as far and as fast as you want to go,” Haney said.

Many of the students already have their course charted and seemed up to the challenge ahead of them.

Luke Evans will be leaving for boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, in just three weeks. He decided to join the Marine Corp after hearing about his older brother’s experiences in the U.S. Army.

“My brother is in the military and he kind of pushed me to do it,” he said.

While Evans only spent one semester at Central, he said he enjoyed his experience there more than at Pisgah High School because the workload was much easier for him.

“I didn’t think I’d make it this far,” he said. “My biggest obstacle was math — I was failing algebra and had to go to Central so I could graduate.”

Nathan Lewis, on the other hand, has always excelled at math, but he said English was his biggest obstacle before he reached graduation.

“But the teachers at Central will work with you, most of them,” he said.

Lewis was awarded a scholarship from the Haywood County Rotary Club and also was the only Central graduate to receive a gold rating on the test all seniors had to take to receive their Career Readiness Certificate.

Lead teacher Donna Parris said hundreds of employers were starting to use the exam for hiring. She said having the certificate would put Central graduates ahead of the game when applying to colleges and jobs.

He plans to attend Haywood Community College for a year before transferring to University of North Carolina in Asheville to major in mechatronics engineering.

“You basically learn what makes a computer do something,” he explained.

Knowing her son’s skills in math and with computers, Lewis’s mother Kathy Hensley told her son about the program at UNC.

“Words can’t express how proud I am of him,” she said. “Central was very good for him — he did well there.”

Layla Gibson attended Central for three and a half years after transferring from Tuscola.

“At Tuscola I was making straight F’s but I’ve really worked hard here to get my grades up,” she said. “The teachers (at Central) were really good. They made the whole experience great.”

Gibson made A’s and B’s during her time at Central and graduated with one Haywood Community College semester under her belt. She plans to get a general education degree from HCC before transferring to Western Carolina University to major in criminal justice.

“I want to be a crime scene investigator,” she said. “When I was at Central I took a criminal justice class and loved all the assignments.”

When asked what her favorite memory would be, she said, “getting to know everyone and growing up.”

Jordan Furniss completed her senior year in December and has been anxious for the graduation ceremony. She attended Central for two years and loved every minute of it.

“It was so hands on and the teachers seem to be sincere about what they did,” she said.

Her future plans include going to school to become an OBGYN nurse so she can help deliver babies.

“I knew the day my niece was born that I wanted to do it,” she said.

Amber Shive, a special education teacher, has worked at Central for two years. She said she wished the graduating class all the best in the future.

“It’s such a small school, you really get to know them on a personal level,” she said. “They are a very determined class — good to know and work with.”

Science teacher Robert Allison agreed, saying the class was “eclectic with much aspiration.”