40 seniors toss their caps at O'Neal graduation

O’Neal held its 48th commencement at the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center at Sandhills Community College on Friday.

O’Neal’s valedictorian is Charles Kuzma, whose parents are Dr. Charles and Mrs. Christine Kuzma of Foxfire. O’Neal’s salutatorian is Lauren Kuhn, daughter of Dr. Ritt and Mrs. Whitney Kuhn of Pinehurst, announced the school. 

The commencement speaker was retired faculty member Sam Amato. During his 22 years teaching middle school students at O’Neal, he coached sports teams for all three athletic seasons. Most notably, he was the varsity baseball coach for more than a decade. As a teacher and coach, he was loved and cherished by many and made every effort to know and support his students and student-athletes. Amato continues to serve as a substitute teacher at O’Neal.

Amato addressed the graduates, describing the components of the hero’s journey, a common template for stories involving a “hero.” This template calls for departure, initiation, and return. As graduates are now at the departure stage, adventure awaits them, and from their experiences, they will return to enrich others who cross their paths.

The class of 2024, consisting of 40 students, has amassed $2.6 million in merit-based and athletic scholarships so far. All 40 students are matriculating to 28 different institutions of higher learning in 14 states. 

A sample of these colleges and universities are Oberlin College, Brown University, University of Notre Dame, Baylor University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Davidson College, and University of Alabama. Grace Simpson has committed to the Pepperdine University Women’s Track and Field Program, Olivia Maxwell will be joining the Campbell University Cheerleading Team, Nick Joyce has signed with the Methodist University Men’s Golf Program, Brennan Hodges has committed to the Queens University Charlotte Men’s Track and Field Program, Reily Johnson has signed with the Wake Technical College Women’s Basketball Program.

Contributed/Courtesy photo.

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