Words Of Advice
BY SARAH GREGORY
"Make the right decisions now, and you will soar like an eagle."
That was the message from guest speaker Steve Fitzhugh to a number of high school seniors from each of the county's five high schools during the 21st annual United Baccalaureate celebration Wednesday evening at Tusculum College's Pioneer Arena.
Attendance at the annual non-governmental event is entirely voluntary. The event is sponsored by the United Prayer Fellowship, a local nondenominational Christian group,
The Baccalaureate celebration's theme is the same each year: "To God Be The Glory."
Fitzhugh's lively address, packed with humorous references to teenage slang, was met with frequent applause, boisterous laughter, and smatterings of "amen" from the audience.
The event also featured the presentation of 10 Doer of the Word scholarship awards, and a vocal performance by the Greeneville High School Advanced Chorus, under the direction of Kathy May.
DOER OF THE WORD
The Doer of the Word awards are named for a biblical verse from the first chapter of the New Testament Book of James: " ... but be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only."
Two recipients -- one boy and one girl -- from each of the five high schools are selected by their peers for the $1,000 scholarship award based on their demonstration of Christian values in everyday life.
Funding for the scholarships is made possible in large part through the Greene County Master's Golf Tournament.
Award winners were:
* Holly Deas and Alex Hensley, of Chuckey-Doak High School;
* Katie Green and Josh Tillery, of Greeneville High School;
* Chelsie Murray and Garrett Harbin, of North Greene High School;
* Javan Wilhoit and Dallas Malone, of South Greene High School; and,
* Macy Parham and Derrick Livingston, of West Greene High School.
After the scholarship winners were recognized, Fitzhugh took to the stage to address the high school seniors soon to graduate.
A native of Akron, Ohio, who now lives in Minneapolis, Fitzhugh is a former professional football player, having played for the Denver Broncos.
Following an exit from the National Football League after injuries, he began to work with drug and alcohol prevention programs.
He's now Executive Director of PowerMoves, which takes him to speaking engagements all around the country as "a champion for youth, motivator, author, and humorist."
He is also a spokesperson for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
UNDERSTAND THE 'WHY'
Fitzhugh offered some advice to the students on how to be successful in life.
Of primary importance, he said, was understanding the "why" of life's events.
The key to that, he said, is that, "God has a plan for you."
But, he added, "He won't force it on you."
He urged the students to make good decisions.
"The best advice I've ever gotten," he said, "was, 'As soon as you get to college, find out who the people are who know how to pray, and build relationships with them."
Fitzhugh offered three pieces of advice of his own, which were:
* "Make up your mind that you're going to soar like an eagle, because chickens don't fly";
* "Make up your mind that you're going to discover what your purpose is, embrace it, and pursue it"; and,
* "guard your heart."
He urged the seniors to stay strong in their beliefs as they make decisions.
"For every person who laughs at you, I guarantee there are another 10 who wish they had the courage to be just like you," he said.
"If you make the tough decisions now, your life will be easy. If you do the easy things now, your life will be hard," Fitzhugh concluded.