By Keith Barnes
Last Friday night’s North Johnston High graduation was an unusually special milestone for faculty member Jesse Woodard.
Woodard, a senior class adviser, and faculty member who yearly announces the name of each student about to receive his or her diploma, had the opportunity to announce his daughter Taylor’s name before she walked across the stage to be congratulated by Principal Ben Williams and have her photo snapped receiving her diploma.
Taylor Woodard was among the 197 seniors receiving her diploma as a member of the 2018 graduating class.
Not only that but her name was the last one in the class and thus the last name to be announced.
Knowing this, some of Woodard’s friends and fellow faculty members had been good-naturedly teasing him, especially over the past couple of weeks, and predicting he would be unable to hold it together emotionally as he announced his daughter’s name at the ceremony.
Leading up to the ceremony, Woodard said he had not thought or worried about it as much as others had, although he did admit he may have become a little more emotional over a number of things over the past five years.
As for potential emotion and tears, Woodard said he had feared more about losing control earlier in the ceremony than when Taylor’s name came up as he announced the names of her friends and classmates, many of whom he had known since kindergarten or before.
“Part of me is a teacher but part of me is a parent and many of these kids have grown up around Taylor, my wife Kathy and I,” said Woodard earlier last week.
Although he and Taylor were aware of the situation, said Woodard, they had not discussed it a great deal prior to last Friday.
When Taylor’s name came closer, many Woodard family friends later said they had their eyes on Woodard to see what would happen.
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