East Carteret High School seniors, from left, Peyton Lindogan and Eirene Hynes show off their 2019 tassels Tuesday in front of the school. The Class of 2019 at the three county high schools will graduate at 6:30 p.m. Friday, while all county students end the 2018-19 year Thursday. (Cheryl Burke photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — County public school students will close the books this week on the 2018-19 academic year.

The last day for students is Thursday, with an early dismissal.

While it’s over for most students, high school seniors will officially end their school careers with commencement exercises at 6:30 p.m. Friday at East Carteret, Croatan and West Carteret high schools.

East Carteret seniors Eirene Hynes and Peyton Lindogan said Tuesday they have mixed emotions about seeing their high school careers draw to a close.

Ms. Hynes said, “I’m really excited and nervous because I know I will soon be going out on my own. I’m excited about going to college. It’s something new and I like doing new things.”

Mr. Lindogan said, “I feel a little overwhelmed because I’m involved in a lot of clubs and they’re all coming to an end at the same time. But it’s good to see how much we’ve all changed this year.”

There are currently an estimated 587 seniors set to graduate from the three public high schools. Because high school exams are taking place this week, that number could change by the end of the week if some don’t pass their final tests.

The county’s Class of 2019 will make history for two reasons. First, the class had to overcome many obstacles thrown at them due to Hurricane Florence, which caused major damage to their schools and homes in September. Some students are still displaced as the school year comes to a close.

Second, for the first time there will be no valedictorians or salutatorians.

All three high schools will use a Latin honors graduation system similar to colleges. Instead of a valedictorian and salutatorian, graduates with high grade point averages will be recognized as summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude.

This is due to a statewide change in the grade point system, which switched from a seven-point to a 10-point system. The change created more opportunities for GPA ties for valedictorians and salutatorians, according to school officials.

The grade point average requirements for the graduation honors are summa cum laude, 4.5 GPA; magna cum laude, 4.4 GPA; and cum laude, 4.3 GPA. Students must have a minimum of 32 credits to be eligible.

Seniors receiving the honors will be recognized with a certain color stole, including gold for summa cum laude, silver for magna cum laude and white for cum laude.

Mr. Lindogen and Ms. Hynes had varied opinions about the change.

Ms. Hynes said, “I understand why they are doing it because of the new grading system. We have a lot of people with the same GPA and that could have given us multiple valedictorians and salutatorians. In this way we can showcase the accomplishments of all students who worked hard.”

Mr. Lindogan, who said he was in contention for valedictorian, said, “I feel like it kind of undercuts the top students a little bit, but all of my other classmates will be recognized for their hard work, and I think that’s good.”

In addition to regular commencement exercises, baccalaureate services were held Sunday at East Carteret and West Carteret high schools. Croatan High School did not hold a baccalaureate service.

In addition to 587 public high school seniors graduating, 13 will receive diplomas Friday from Gramercy Christian School in Newport and 19 received adult high school diplomas in May from Carteret Community College in Morehead City. This makes a total of 619 seniors in the county’s Class of 2019.

Additional home school seniors graduated, but no count was available on that number.

Students will report back to classes for the 2019-20 year Monday, Aug. 26.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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