Senator speaks at BA graduation

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 16, 2005

Quoting the line “to thine own self be true” from “Hamlet,” U.S.Sen. Thad Cochran Friday encouraged Brookhaven Academy graduates toseize every opportunity for continued growth and development.

“There are so many challenges and opportunities you can meetsuccessfully by knowing yourself,” Cochran told graduates, friendsand family members assembled in the John R. Gray Gymnasium.

Cochran, Mississippi’s senior U.S. senator, was the featuredspeaker for Friday’s event, in which 39 graduates received theirhigh school diplomas.

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Two graduates, Garrett Jackson and Ben Rowley, served as U.S.Senate pages last year following Cochran’s recommendation. Thesenator mentioned the long hours and activities that Jackson andRowley handled as pages.

“They both learned a lot and I’m certainly glad to have giventhem that opportunity,” Cochran said.

In encouraging graduates to do their part to strengthen theircommunity and country, Cochran touted his “Character Counts”education legislation he co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. Pete Domeniciof New Mexico.

The character-building curriculum emphasizes trustworthiness,respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Cochransaid citizenship is the foundation upon which government is basedand it is “grounded in our shared Judeo-Christian heritage.”

Cochran said everyone is affected by politics and he urgedgraduates to take part in the political process by voting orcampaigning for a candidate they support. The senator said therights and freedoms envisioned by founding fathers have made theU.S. the envy of world.

“It’s not by accident or chance that this is the case,” Cochransaid.

Cochran said communities and the country have been shaped by thehard work and character of graduates’ societal ancestors.

As graduates leave high school, Cochran said they are faced withthe challenge to nurture, protect and improve society. Heencouraged the graduates to accept the challenge and to maintain anabundance of opportunities for generations to come.

Following Cochran’s speech, Rowley reflected on his andJackson’s experiences in Washington.

“Our time spent there has truly been a defining period in ourlives,” Rowley said.

Rowley presented Cochran with a gift and said he and Jacksonwill be forever grateful for the opportunity they were given.

“Sen. Cochran is a tremendous public servant and the epitome ofan upright senator,” Rowley said.