Graduation day special this year
by Jack McNeely
May 18, 2014 | 1090 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jack McNeely
Jack McNeely
Last year, just prior to area high school commencement ceremonies I commented about the accomplishments and kaleidoscope of opportunities facing the more than 700 graduates of Walker County.

Graduation day this year takes on a special meaning as my 18-year-old daughter, Brandi, walks across the stage at Walker High School. My wife, Nora, and I are very proud.

It’s been seven years since my oldest daughter, Shaina, donned her cap and gown and took that proverbial step into adulthood.

I suspect that every parent has mixed emotions when their child walks across the stage and accepts their well-deserved diploma and congratulatory handshake.

Overwhelming joy, excitement, sadness and relief are just a few emotions that come to mind today. And I am certain there will be many more emotions Friday evening as the McNeely family is surrounded by a host of family members at Ki-Ro Gambrell Field.

I know my following comments will embarrass my youngest daughter on the eve of her graduation. And I ask that you afford me this opportunity to pen an open letter to her.

Dear Brandi,

Two years ago, I yanked you out of the only world you knew. I pulled you away from the many friends that you cultivated during your most impressionable years.

It was the hardest decision I had to make before heading to our new home here in Jasper, Alabama. We both shed some tears along the way, but I knew you would persevere and become a stronger person for it.

I was right.

Today, you have new friends. You are well prepared for the next scholastic challenge of your life — college. The social ups and downs that you have experienced and successfully navigated in the past two years have prepared you more for adulthood than any teacher ever could.

Now you have the world at your door. Absorb as much of life as you can in the next four years as you transition to independence.

I am so very proud of you!

To all our graduating seniors, I applaud your efforts and wish you well in your future endeavors whether it be college or the workforce. Make the world a better place because you are in it.

Jack McNeely is the publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at