Saturday’s rain showers didn’t dampen the spirits of students graduating from the Richmond Early College High School program this weekend. Many years of hard work were paid off as 58 graduates gathered at Cole Auditorium in Hamlet on May 18 to mark their achievements in an emotional commencement ceremony.
In addition to receiving a high school diploma, 55 of the 58 students left the Early College with associates’ degrees.
A room full of parents, family members and friends stood as the graduates and faculty processed to the front of the auditorium on Saturday.
Ryan Taylor, chief junior marshal, provided the opening remarks for the ceremony just before Principal Michael Chapman took the podium.
“One of the best assets at the Early College is not its academics,” Chapman said, “but the sheer amount of work ethic students find here.”
As he addressed the graduates, the Early College principal shared a quote by Colin Powell: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
These graduates have dedicated as little as three and as many as five years at the Early College, Chapman said. The amount of work the students put into their high school careers has been reflected through their academic and personal success — and will continue to show as they move forward with their lives.
“Regardless of how difficult the task is, or how different the people are,” Chapman said, “if you have the right work ethic, you can accomplish anything … You have made your faculty and family proud. Today you have become the adults we knew you could be.”
Salutatorian Brooke Walker followed with an address to the graduates.
“There’s something to be said about a group of young people like us that have accomplished what we have,” Walker said, thanking the students and staff for giving her an experience she said she will never forget. “Here’s to tomorrow and whatever it may hold for us,” she said, “and since it is us, I’m positive it will be something amazing.”
David Sedano, class valedictorian, took the podium next and read from Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled.”
“We will face many paths in the future,” Sedano said, wishing his fellow graduates good luck as they found their own way. “And this time it’s not as simple … But the path you choose will make all the difference.”
Following the recognition of Beta Club Graduates by Christy Mabe, students walked onstage, row by row, to accept their diplomas and shake their principal’s hand.
Personal tributes to each student were given as they accepted their awards — many of them emotional as students planned to take different paths in the coming months. While some graduates would be continuing their education at a university on scholarship, others planned to enter directly into the workforce or enlist in the military.
Just before the recessional, students changed their tassels and heard a few heartfelt closing remarks from SGA President Adrian Robson.
Saturday marked the Early College’s second graduation since its founding. The school enrolls students in grades 9 to 12 and is located on the campus of Richmond Community College. For more information about REaCH, visit the school website at www.richmond.k12.nc.us/REC/.