MOREHEAD CITY — It was a happy and, for some, a tearful occasion Friday evening as West Carteret High School’s Class of 2019 entered the gymnasium for its final act as part of the student body: graduation.
About 275 graduating seniors entered the packed room to the processional “Pomp and Circumstance,” performed by the symphonic band as family members and friends cheered on their loved ones.
Associated Student Body President William Stone Watson kicked off the night with the first speech, welcoming friends, family and guests to the occasion.
Mr. Watson said it was an honor serving as the student body president and mentioned his classmates should be proud of all of their accomplishments during their four years in the school’s halls.
“All of the moms, and even some of the dads, get your tissues out because it’s going to be a long night,” he said as he addressed the happy crowd.
Parents and family members had a lot to be proud of, indeed.
Principal Joe Poletti recognized the students who received special achievements, ranging from the Character Academic Achievement Award, the class honor stole recipients, the N.C. Academic Scholar, the President’s Award for Educational Excellence and the sole recipient of the Four Years of Perfect Attendance, which went to Clint Michael Guinther.
“Seven hundred and twenty days, 5,400 hours, 324,000 minutes. It is my pleasure to recognize the student who has spent all of those days, hours and minutes in dedication to attending class every school day ... thank you, and perfect attendance is no small accomplishment,” Mr. Poletti said.
Sixty-five seniors were recognized as N.C. academic scholars.
A total of 51 seniors were recognized for earning the President’s Award for Academic Excellence. To qualify, they maintained at least the 85th percentile on the Scholastic Assessment Test or ACT and maintained at least a 3.5 unweighted grade point average.
In addition, 44 seniors were honored with a round of applause for earning academic achievement awards for all four years.
Mr. Watson and Savannah Grace Parker earned the Thomas H. Carrow Scholarship this year, which is based on scholastic achievement and financial need.
Mr. Watson also received the Morehead Rotary Best All Around Award, given based on scholarship, leadership and character.
For the first time in the school’s and county history, there were no valedictorian or salutatorian speeches. All three county high schools used a Latin honors graduation system similar to colleges.
Instead of a valedictorian and salutatorian, graduates with high grade point averages were recognized as summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude.
The grade point average requirements for the Latin graduation honors were 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.
Graduating cum laude were Cameron Bowers Eure, Rachel Taylor Jacob, Kylie Patricia Justice and Molly Alison Perry. Graduating magna cume laude were Daisy Loraine Cagle, Vanessa Maria Chazal, Ethan William Hall, Erin Marie Outlaw, Kylee Noel Rappaport, Allison Camille Robinson, Ashley Michelle Schreiber and Mr. Watson. Graduating summa cum laude were Skylar Grace Harrelson, Ms. Parker, Meghan Yong Yan Paschall and Hunter Parkin Rose.
Speakers included Ms. Paschall, who said the future’s next bright, greatest stars could be sitting in the crowd at that very moment.
“I want you to take a look around you. Chances are you’re sitting beside our next politicians and lawyers,” she said.
She called on her classmates’ accomplishments during their years in the school and encouraged the audience to imagine how each of them would succeed in the future. Ms. Paschall said even though graduation may have a touch of sadness to it, it was not a final goodbye.
“This is not an end all goodbye ... this is just see you in 10 years when we are all significantly smarter, wealthier and better looking,” she said.
Ms. Harrelson, who gave the commencement address, talked about how hard change can be, but the change she and her classmates experienced over the years helped shape them into the young adults they have become.
“The Class of 2019 certainly underwent a lot of unwanted change, she said. “Our senior year began with Hurricane Florence, an event that brought detrimental effects to our community. We were the first class with the new GPA scale, no class rank or senior projects. We experienced the introduction of new administration followed by different rules, such as the loss of our beloved Nike shorts and the absolute extinction of cell phones.
“Although most of these changes came with a great deal of resistance, I believe they allowed us to grow. Part of getting older is gaining the ability to adapt to change and the Class of 2019 has definitely had lots of practice. We are all about to go through one of the biggest transformations in our life, (whether) it be starting a full-time job or leaving home to go to college. Being a part of the Class of 2019 has certainly prepared us for this. We are a class who is not afraid of change. In fact, I think we are all ready to embrace it,” she continued.
Senior Class President Emma Kemp presented the class gift, which was a spirit rock and a water bottle refilling station.
Marshals for graduation, junior class members of the National Honor Society, were chief marshals Alexander Munoz, Matthew Loynes and Emma Walters, and marshals Richard Bandy, Bailey Baugus, Savannah Bell, Margarita Bowers-Young, Morgan Bradley, Rebecca Bretzke, Taylor Byrd, Summer Carlton, Dara Carpenter, Taylor Chapoton, Nadia Cuervo, Bradley DeLuzio, Lauren DeLuzio, Lily Dipietrantonio, Sophie Draughon, Allison Johnson, Meghan Johnson, Zachary Johnson, Avery-Elizabeth Kimball, James Kraft, Jackson Lupton, Brittney Moore, Blythe Morris, Anna Mudge, Lindsey Nguyen, Marissa Phelps, Madison Pittman, Sarah Prosser, Abigail Scudder, Clara Shertzer, Megan Sivecz, Mason Starling, Lily Suber, Paige Thomason, Makayla Tinney, Meade Varner and Hayden Winchell.
Mr. Poletti handed out diplomas to each graduate. The audience was asked to hold applause and cheers until the end, and it was thunderous when it occurred.
After diplomas were awarded, tassels turned and caps tossed, the seniors officially became high school graduates.
Contact Megan Soult at 252-726-7081, ext. 228; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @meganCCNT.