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|Prelude: "Fugue in G Minor"||
|Processional: "Pomp and Circumstance"||
Drenda Roberts, Senior Class Chaplain
Our Father, we recognize Thee as the giver of every good and prefect gift and we especially thank Thee on this occasion for the many bountiful blessings which Thou hast bestowed upon this class. We would thank Thee for the close ties which we have been able to enjoy with one another, for the student leadership, faculty, and administration which has labored in our behalf. We thank Thee for the strength and guidance which has enabled us to complete our high school objectives here at Overton.
We would ask Thy forgiveness for having in any way failed and pray that Thou wouldst help us to profit from our past mistakes in order that we may walk more wisely and closely with Thee.
Father, we would pray for thy continued blessings on our school, that it may grow and be a lighthouse for the youth in this community and we would also ask Thy special blessings on this senior class - be with those who have known sorrow and borne handicaps - be with all of us daily that we may grow in grace, knowledge, and wisdom and continue to develop ourselves in such a way that we would fulfill the course which would be pleasing to Thee, our Creator. Amen.
Billy Buchanan, Senior Class President
Mr. Stimbert, Mr. Hewlett, Parents, Treachers, Friends:
We the senior class of 1962 welcome you to Watkins Overton High School's first commencement exercises. The class before you has the unique distinction which few others have experienced -- that of being a senior class for three years. In these three years we have seen Overton's reputation grow. We have placed high in national, regional, state and city competitions in both scholarship and athletics.
In this the largest first class ever to be graduated from a new high school in the city of Memphis, we are proud to announce that we have over seventy percent who are planning to attend college this coming fall.
We are grateful to you for coming to share with us this night, that culminates for us the labor of twelve years. For a large measure this occasion honors you also for without your help, your loyalty, and your friendship we would not be here to graduate tonight.
|Pledge of Allegiance||
|"America the Beautiful"||
|"Today We Stand - The Past is Prologue"||
Here we stand, some two hundred thirteen seniors, eagerly awaiting the crowning moment of our school career, the moment in which we receive our diplomas. To us, these are much more than mere pieces of paper, they are the badges that mark the successful culmination of twelve long years of study, hard work, and fun with our classmates and friends.
In the course of these years we have passed from childhood to the realm of the young adult. As our bodies have developed physically, our minds have matured mentally. Our emotions, our beliefs, our set of values, in short, all that goes into the composition of that complex organism known as the human body has grown and developed. However, this growth did not occur unaided. Our mental development was accomplished though the efforts of our parents, the influence exerted over us by skilled teachers in our school and churches, and the relationships that we have formed with our close friends.
As members of the young adult class, we realize that now is the time in which we must determine the standards that will remain an integral part of our character for the rest of our lives. Absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness, love, and courage, not only physical but the courage to stand firm in our beliefs, these are the standards of life that we have been developing all through school, the standards that will help us face the future with eagerness and with the joy of living.
During the process of our development, our five senses have also been increasing in their efficiency. Through sight we are learning to train our eyes to see the beauty of the world around us and to discover and alleviate the needs of our friends and acquaintances. The sense of sound has shown us that we can use our ears to hear the quiet voice of God within the cries that are raised by our fellow men who need new medicines, new inventions, and many more necessities of life. The development of the sense of touch has given us the touch of hands clasped in friendship, hands that will work diligently at any task, no matter how humble it may be. Through smell we have come to appreciate the fresh air of freedom and the sweet scent of flowers that add aesthetic values to our being. Finally, the development of all these senses has enabled us to enrich our sense of taste to the point where we are looking forward to savoring a rich and full life.
Something should be said concerning the reason for the time spent in training our mental ability. For the past twelve years we have studied a wide variety of subjects, gathering and assimilating knowledge that has covered many different fields of interest. All of us, at one time or another, have encountered subjects that we disliked, ones that were dull, uninteresting, or even boring. Why was it necessary to take courses such as these? The answer to this question is fairly clear. Every subject that we have taken, whether it was the dullest or the most interesting, has played an important part in shaping our minds and sowing in them the seeds of a general knowledge concerning all the different phases of education, a knowledge that will remain with us no matter what we become in later life, and that will help us regardless of the vocation that we enter. We hav been well prepared to face the majority of the situations that life will throw at us, and with God's help, we will be able to overcome them all.
Those of us who stand here today owe a debt of gratitude to our parents and teachers that we may never hope to repay. Without their understanding, kindness, and guidance, many of us would not be here at this time. It is because of their teachings that we will be able to face the future with heads high and hearts uplifted. Having set an example for us to follow, they have made it possible for us to become the citizens of today and the pillars of tomorrow's society. From the bottom of our hearts we offer our deepest gratitude and warmest thanks to these wonderful leaders for making us what we are today, and we know that they will continue performing the excellent job that they have thus far done.
And so, we here are standing upon the brink of tomorrow looking back into yesterday. And as we go forward into the future, we take this thought with us:
|"Tomorrow - The World"||
Here we stand. This is our commencemtn - the beginning of our lives as citizens of the world - as real individuals. From this ceremony we go on to start our careers or our professional training. We have only begun to scratch the surface of knowledge to be gained, and whether we attend classes or not we will be learning a little something every day that will in some way improve and enhance our lives. From Overton and Memphis our horizons will broaden to include the problems of the world. We must be conscious of these problems and do something to create and perpetuate peace in our time. We must be valuable citizens of the world. This is our duty to ourselves, our families and friends, our communities, and our country.
Many of us already have plans for marriage. Most of us will be married within the next five years. Our marriages should be permanent. This is the most awful legal contract into which we shall ever enter, and we should consider well before taking so great a step; but once it is taken we should remember the vows we shall have made -- to live together in love and understanding until we are parted by death. We should give to our children love, and security, and opportunities even finer than ours have been. We most remember that one's best is all that can be asked of him, and that every man is his own best competitor. Hard work and virtue are still their own rewards.
We must improve our capacity to use our education, for we have only begun to train our minds, our bodies, and our character. In three years we shall help to elect men to government -- leaders in our city, state, and country. It is our duty to elect capable, responsible people. Therefore we must learn to know the candidates, and then vote. A careful study of the candidates' qualifications is imperative form, as Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend,
If we fail to utilize our right to express our opinions and preserve our democracy, then we stand in grave peril of losing that right and all others. Vennevar Bush wrote:
We must fight Communism in our daily lives by accentuating the moral code and faith in God, man, and our country. We must remember the principles on which our country was founded, and help to keep her true and strong. We must actively believe in God, for our actions speak louder than our words. I takes the contributions of all to make and keep America a great country.
We must budget our time, our energy, and our money. There is a time for work and a time for relaxation. During this leisure time we should read -- books, magazines, newspapers. We are starting -- now -- some kind of higher education; we must always educate our selves as conscientious citizens of a free nation in order to work toward an informed and free world. We must be willing to learn, to take criticism, to be punctual, to be dependable, to do anything well, to give more than is asked. Thus may we know not only the discipline, but the joy of learning and of work.
As Dr. Russell said Sunday [at the baccalaureate service],
We must give thanks to Him in our daily lives for making us free people -- for granting us such wonderful opportunities.
We must live courageously, abundantly, victoriously -- stand up for our convictions and do, each of us, our small part, that the buf hurdles may be passed.
Why buck convention? Perhaps convention is wrong. If you think so, have the courage of your convictions and perhaps convention will realize its mistake. But even if it does not, you will have done your part by making people stop to think.
These are the reasons why people are successful in life:
In these next few years we must gain a deeper understanding of life, a more social attitude toward all our fellow men, a stability that results from a rounded character and faith in God, a capacity for bringing a larger degree of happiness to ourselves and others, the ability to envision the limitless opportunities of life, and the courage to dare to realize these convictions. This is our duty. Tomorrow is ours. And with diligence, patience, hard work, and study we can take our place in the world of greater service.
|"Forward - Into the Future"||
Current trends provoke many of us to make decisions which will culminate in our success or failure in life. Never before has a generation been congronted with such vast opportunities of prosperity, power, security, position, and spiritual growth. The contention for world power, the space race, and the transition to automation help set the stage for the individual willing to persevere -- to succeed. As we develop into the leaders of tomorrow, we must be willing to prepare ourselves to fill positions in science, business, medicine, law, and numerous other professions and occupations. A careful evaluation of attitudes, talents, habits, interests, and economic status is essential for ultimate satisfaction through choice of a career. For a great many this will mean college raining. For those who enter their occupations immediately following graduation, training on the job will be neessary. Some may wish to pursue a career in a branch of the armed forces. A lack of preparation, immaturity, and inability to accept responsibility will mean failure for us. We cannot predict the future, but we can strive to accomplish the goals we set.
Within the span of our lifetime science has progressed more rapidly than in any preceding age. Many new fields have been opened and many advancements have been initiated in existing fields. Some of the most significant developments are products of medical research. We have seen preventive treatments for diseases which previously could not be controlled. To us will be left the task of searching for causes and preventive measures of seemingly incurable and uncontrollable diseases. We shall also pioneer many new areas.
Other research has tended to make our world grow smaller in some respects and larger in others. Through developments provided by future engineers we can look forward to even more drastic changes in transportation and visualize improvements in safety, convenience, and efficiency in all modes of travel. While transportation tends to decrease the size of our world through an element of time, increasing knowledge of previously undoscovered realms causes us to feel many frontiers are left to be conquered.
We cannot bypass conveniences afforded by the already inevitable success of automation. The business world, the home, and industry afford the most likely places for the continuance of this utility. To the housewife this transition will mean more leisure time; for industry and the business world it will expedite the operation and production of all essential phases.
Nuclear science will continue to be part of our way of life. Greater developments in power sources, medical research, propagation of vegetation, and preservation of foods will be ours to command.
In another phase of our acceptance of responsibility we should consider the impending threat of Communism.
In order to defeat this threat, sincere, conscientious leaders should volunteer to take their place in government and civic affairs. The outcome of the struggle for world power will be decided by our attitude toward God and this world He created.
Already we can see how this milestone in our life is designed to present to us the grave responsibility which will be ours. At this point we feel inadequate to undertake the task before us. Our hope for the future lies in such sterling qualities as courage, self-reliance, faith, perseverance, and wisdom.
|Scholarships and Awards||
James Hewlett, Principal
At this time I should like to recognize those students who have won scholarships and other awards:
These students have been chosen to attend the Commercial Appeal-Chamber of Commerce Banquet for Academic Scholarship. This represents the upper four percent of the graduating class:
These students were chosen as finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Competition:
At this time there is a special award to be presented. This is the first time this award has been given and to present this award Mrs. Watkins Overton is with us tonight. As you all know, Mrs. Overton is the widow of the late Watkins Overton for whom this school was named ... a great civic leader in Memphis and Tennessee. Mrs. Overton.
Mrs. Watkins Overton
Mr. Stimbert, Mr. Hewlett, members of the faculty, members of the first graduating class of Overton High, and ladies and gentlemen:
I think that this must be one of the proudest moments of my life. No greater honor could have been paid to my husband than that an institution of learning should bear his name. Of all his years of public service, which included more than sixteen years as mayor of Memphis, I think he enjoyed most of all the time he served as president of our Board of Education. He always felt that the public education of the youth of America was one of the most important things any person could give his time to.
I feel a tremendous personal interest in this school, and it has been my hope to be of any help that I possibly can, and to transmit to the students here some of my husband's feelings toward public service which he felt to be a privilege - not a responsibility. Because he said it so much better than I can, I would like to ask your permission to read part of a speech which he made in the summer of 1956 when he returned to Carroll College, a small Presbyterian college on the outskirts of Milwaukee from which he had received his B.A. degree forty years before. He entitled his address "Can Democracy Survive?" I would like to read this excerpt of it to you.
This was my husband's creed. This was the belief on which he gave his life; his life of service to the city he loved. I hope and certainly believe that his years of public service have been of great value to Memphis.
With the permission of your principal and faculty, and with the approval of the Board of Education, I have therefore established an annual award to be known as the "Watkins Overton Citizenship Award." Each year the principal and faculty shall choose a member of the graduating class of Overton High who, in their estimation, has been outstanding in citizenship in this school -- a student who has gone above and beyond those duties actually required of him. It shall be my privilege each year to present to a member of the graduating class of Overton a plaque similar to the one I hold in my hands.
This award has not been previously announced and the first recipient, I am quite sure, has no idea of its existence. It is with great price that I present the first annual Watkins Overton Citizenship Award to William Eugene Tomlinson.