Gray Stone Day grads hear commencement from departing Pfeiffer Uni pres

Photo by Heather Ferguson provided by GSDS

MISENHEIMER — As the 106 seniors at Gray Stone Day School in Misenheimer waited to walk across the stage and be handed their diplomas on May 24, Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, the departing Pfeiffer University president, gave a memorable commencement on “five truths about life as revealed in Facebook statuses.”

Dr. Keith told the students that as she was trying to think of a good topic for the speech, she got stumped. “I looked in all of the usual places: I turned to books, to scripture, to friends and colleagues. And… also probably like you, I ended up surfing around on social media.”

This led her to write a speech, using common social media topics, that advised students to resist giving into fear, to learn from life’s failures, to act with integrity according to their values, to make big decisions carefully and to value the people and moments that make it all worthwhile.

“It went beautifully, and everyone was very respectful of the graduates,” said Helen Nance, the chief administrative officer at Gray Stone, about the 7 p.m. ceremony in the school’s gymnasium. And on Dr. Keith’s speech, she said it was very well received and enjoyed by staff, parents and students alike.

Many of the students are now headed directly to four-year institutions like UNC-Greensboro, East Carolina University, Duke University and University of South Carolina.

Lucy Featherstone and Jack Rummage are staying closer to home as they have been accepted as Milton Rose Scholars down the road at Pfeiffer University.

Still others will first go to community colleges or have chosen to do vocational programs. Chase Viscomi will be attending Stanly County Community College to take advantage of their radiology program.

“Stanly Community College has an excellent Radiology program, which helped me make my decision, as I want to be a Radiographer and I plan to major in Radiology,” Viscomi said. “I am choosing to attend a community college before a four year college to save money, get my associate’s degree, and it is also closer to home.”

The students received a total of $3,441,353 in scholarship and grant assistance, which are the funds that will be applied at the school they will attend, not just those offered to them by all schools. During their time at Gray Stone Day School, faculty was proud to note that the students spent over 4,400 hours in community service at local churches, nonprofits and schools.

Scout Burch, who will be attending Meredith College, said of her time at the school, “I think Gray Stone was the best place for me and I don’t think any other high school could have given me this experience.”

Many students’ achievements at Gray Stone have set them up to achieve more success in their next stage. Reilley Ploplis, for example, received a swim scholarship at Lenoir-Rhyne University and Mariah Helms was accepted into Campbell University’s pre-med program.

Dr. Keith, Pfeiffer’s first female president, will complete her tenure at the school May 31 and will start a new position in Wilmington, Delaware at Goldey-Beacom College.