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Davis urges grads to keep passion

Larry Clifton walked past a gate to the fence of the Southside High football field, disposable coffee cup in hand. He paused, passed the time with someone for a minute. Then, black-robed students began to stroll out of a nearby building.

Clifton paused and watched closely.

About mid-way through the line of two-by-two graduating seniors, his eyes lit up. He smiled and waved.

She waved back — a little — smiled and kept step with her class.

“I think its just great,” Clifton said of his daughter Zuri Jiles’ graduation. “It seems like just yesterday she was in diapers and today she is graduating.”

His pride was evident. Jiles is his only daughter, one of two children; one of 116 graduates of Southside HIgh School on Friday night.

The high school band played the most famous march by Sir Edward Elgar and students took their places along the 50-yard-line in front of chairs there specifically for them. Parents, grandparents, other relatives, friends and well-wishers sat in the stands or leaned over the chain-link fence surrounding the field.

Congressman Artur Davis of the 7th Congressional District, which includes the Black Belt, urged graduates to take the energy and passion they have as graduating seniors into their futures, whether college or military or work — every place.

“Don’t leave it on the field tonight,” he said.

Davis also addressed parents, telling them their students needed them past graduation.

“Don’t give up on them,” he said.