CHARLOTTE – Maureen Furr began her tenure as principal at South Mecklenburg High School the same year the Class of 2019 started kindergarten. The commencement ceremony held June 13 at Bojangles’ Coliseum marked the final day for Furr and her seniors as South Meck Sabres.
Since starting work at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 1992, Furr has opened South Charlotte and Jay M. Robinson middle schools, as well as won leadership awards at the local, state and national levels.
Before handing out diplomas, Furr drew parallels between Robert Fulghum’s classic book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and lessons graduates learned at South Meck.
But it may be her advice on time that may leave a more lasting impact with graduates.
“Living a balanced life is challenging at times – I have struggled with it all my life – if you try to handle school, a job, family responsibilities, you already understand it isn’t easy. It is important though to include time for yourself, your family, your friends, your studies and your interests as you move toward more independence and have more options before you.”
Furr said she plans to take advantage of her retirement. She advised graduates not to wait.
“The quality of life rests not only on what you do but how you do it and with whom,” she said.
Valedictorian Beckett Stillman thanked Furr for being a “caring and strong principal.”
“Dr. Furr has certainly left a legacy here that will never be forgotten,” Stillman said, noting the Class of 2019 will leave its own legacy of laughter, kindness and relationships.
Stillman had a 4.7333 grade point average, earning him a Park Scholarship at N.C. State University.
“It’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know,’” Stillman said. “It’s OK to be unsure or feel like you’re clueless when everyone else seems knowing. However, the next step is to realize South has already gifted us the tools we need to conquer any obstacle – thinking for ourselves, courage and kindness.”
Marvin Zetina-Jimenez mentioned how the more than 600 graduates had a different story to tell about how they got there and how it’s important to help others because you don’t know the secret battles they are going through.
“I realize that we each have our own story and battles in life as we have worked hard to get here,” Zetina-Jimenez said. “I personally had a life-changing event last summer that continues with me to this day. I fight that battle every day, as I know others in this room have had to do so with their very own for much longer than I have.”
For Zetina-Jimenez, that battle has been recovering from a spinal cord injury. Despite such adversity, he earned the designation of salutatorian for earning a GPA of 4.6935. He’ll head to MIT in the fall on full scholarship.