WINTERS – The Winters High School Class of 2017 took their final bow on Thursday night as 21 seniors were presented with their diplomas.

WINTERS – The Winters High School Class of 2017 took their final bow on Thursday night as 21 seniors were presented with their diplomas.

Most of those graduates have pledged to further their education and will do so thanks to numerous scholarships and awards.

Winters Superintendent Bruce Davis, called the Class of 2017 “a great group of students" at a recent awards ceremony, and that feeling was echoed by others at the ceremony.

Mandie England, secondary counselor at Winter ISD, said she is hopeful for the future of all of the 2017 graduates.

“This class has faced adversity together and developed a deep camaraderie,” England said. “We wil miss this wonderful class but look forward to the great things they will do in their future.”

Grace Bryan, valedictorian for the Class of 2017 with her average of 101.9, delivered the valedictorian speech to the crowd at the Special Events Center.

She read the words of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” to the students, which is a poem that extols the trials and tribulations of becoming an adult.

“I’d like to paraphrase Kipling’s words: Be honest, you are only as good as your word,” Bryan said. “Be present, it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Be strong, when you fail and fall and inevitably lose it all, pick up the pieces and start again….”

She then, quoted advice from two of Winters’ most celebrated educators, Deborah Pritchard and Mandie England.

“In the words of Amanda Annette England, ‘Happiness is a choice, choose to be happy,” Bryan said.

“In the words of Deborah Kay Pritchard, and to paraphrase a little, Class of 2017 ‘Have a good life and make smart choices,” Bryan said.

Bryan was the National Honor Society president, a student council member, coordinated the NHS Blood Drive, was the student representative for FCCLA and won many awards in UIL competitions.

Bryan, who received over $200,000 in scholarship awards, plans to attend Abilene Christian University where she plans to pursue a career in pediatric medicine.

“Winters High School is a great place to start out and a great group to rally around,” Bryan said following the awards ceremony last week.

Salutatorian K’Lee Lindley who has won numerous accolades for athletics and academics and will leave her alma mater with a 99.5 average.

During her speech to the class, she thanked family, friends and guests as well as teachers, administrators and staff “for the endless hours they put into becoming who we had once only dreamed of being.”

Lindley took a walk down memory lane and recalled several students who like her, have spent their entire school lives at Winters ISD, mentioning numerous classmates.

“Take a deep breath and let this really sink in because we’re going to miss this,” Lindley said.

During the speech, as she told everyone “thanks for the memories, the laughs and all the inside jokes,” she paused to take one more class picture, a selfie.

Then, she quoted Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and urged the students to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

Lindley, who accumulated $177,000 in scholarships plans to attend Tarleton State University in the fall where she will pursue a degree in kinesiology and special education.

Throughout her high school career, Lindley has been active in sports, including softball, basketball, cross country, track and tennis. She was vice president of the National Honor Society, treasurer of FCCLA, a four time regional qualifier for UIL and a cheerleader. She was named All State in cross country, basketball and academically.