St. Mary High School's small but accomplished Class of 2019 donned blue caps and gowns Saturday and took center stage to mark a milestone in their young lives.
A sea of supportive families, teachers, friends and students crowded into the school gymnasium for the 2019 commencement ceremony, which saw 17 graduates parade into the room to "Pomp and Circumstance" and walk the stage for their diplomas.
Valedictorian Dorian Record touted the Class of 2019's achievements and individuality in a brief address before performing a rendition of "Ave Maria" with accompaniment from the school orchestra.
Record said the class had a 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate, before recognizing the efforts of teachers, faculty, parents and her classmates. She later said the 2019 class is small, but it's also diverse and endowed with the "drive to succeed."
"We are a class of adventurers, debaters, negotiators, caretakers, comedians, intellectuals and leaders," she said.
The 2019 graduates are enrolled in college for the fall, school guidance counselor Peggy Culbertson said.
The total amount of scholarship dollars offered to the class is $2.5 million, or about $150,000 per graduate. The scholarships come from in-state and out-of-state institutions, such as the universities of Kentucky and Tennessee, Murray State and many others.
In his own address, salutatorian Reid Courtney said the graduates became "one big family" over the years and went through a lot together as a class, thanking parents and teachers for their efforts.
"St. Mary became many things to us over the years," he said. "A place to learn, a place to grow, a place to build relationships and a place to make lifelong memories, but most importantly, St. Mary has been our home." Courtney said class members have "extremely bright" futures ahead of them, with both struggles and triumphs.
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but it's about learning to dance in the rain," he said.
In other recognitions, Father Brad Whistle announced graduate Claire Carrico as the recipient of the Christian Witness Award, while Record also received the G. Douglas Edwards Sr. Scholarship.