O’Neal grads toss their caps

O’Neal held its 47th commencement at the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center at Sandhills Community College Friday, May 26, at 9 a.m. Commencement is the final school event for the school year.

O’Neal’s valedictorians are Maxwell Epstein, whose parents are Mr. Mark Epstein and Ms. Julia Latham of Aberdeen; and Alexsandra Lapple, whose parents are Mr. Robert Lapple and Dr. Giovanna Devercelli of Pinehurst. O’Neal’s salutatorian is Maya Beasley, daughter of Mr. Louis and Mrs. Erica Beasley of Pinehurst.

The commencement speaker was Jared Lina, ’97. During his time at O’Neal, he was a student-athlete with conference and state recognitions in soccer and golf. He served as class president and Key Club president during his senior year and was one of the three valedictorians of his graduating class. Mr. Lina graduated from Duke University in 2001 with degrees in economics and psychology.

Lina worked as a production assistant and associate producer at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where he was the recipient of three Emmy Awards for his work on SportsCenter and Sunday NFL Countdown. Lina then attended law school at Georgia State University College of Law, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. After working in two large Atlanta law firms, he has spent the past 10 years as a partner in the law firm of Goldstein, Hayes & Lina. He is married with two daughters.

Lina addressed the graduates, advising them that whatever they choose to do in life, to be great at their endeavors.

The class of 2023, consisting of 20 students, so far has amassed $2.6 million in merit-based and athletic scholarships. The students are matriculating to 16 institutions of higher learning in 10 states. Some of these colleges and universities are Columbia University, University of Kentucky, Washington College, University of Rhode Island, UNC-Chapel Hill, and NC State University.

Alexsandra Lapple is joining the women’s golf program at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana; Maya Beasley will be joining the women’s golf program at the University of Richmond; Trey Black will be joining the men’s lacrosse program at Hampden Sydney College in Virginia; and Phillip Hancock will be joining the men’s soccer program at Nichols College in Massachusetts.

Photo by Wendy Hodges.


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