Poised at the edge of celebration, Polk County High’s graduating class received some final words of wisdom Friday night from Board of Education chairman Geoffrey M. Tennant.

“From this day forward, resolve to seize each day and ring out of it every opportunity that avails you. Don’t fail to experience everything you can,” Tennant said. “And, secondly, may your life’s journey be a search for your better angels.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you may turn your tassels.”

And with that, the 153 members of Polk County’s Class of 2018 officially became high school graduates.

Tennant’s words concluded ceremonies of slightly more than an hour that featured speeches from the top five students in the class – Lane Austin Walls, Noriana Jade Saunderson, Drew Tyler Bailey, salutatorian Brianna Nicole Richardson and valedictorian Kendall Elizabeth Hall. Each shared memories from their time at PCHS, with Hall including reflections from teachers around the county about the graduating class as a central part of her speech.

“We are the class of 2018. We have left our mark on Polk County, and from what I see, it’s a pretty good one,” Hall said. ‘Our future is bright, but it is up to us to utilize what we all have within us.

“So thank you to Polk County Schools and the community who have mentored and supported our talents and have instilled in us that we can achieve all of our dreams. The future generations of graduates are lucky to have you by their side.”

An ensemble including graduates Isabella Bowser, Rachel Childers, Lauren Ketwitz, Caroline Patterson and Reagan Waddell sang both the national anthem and a moving rendition of Danny Boy during the ceremony, which began with senior class president Haley Fowler leading a crowd that filled half of G.M. Tennant Stadium in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.