ROCKINGHAM — They’ve waited 13 years to don the green and gold caps and gowns and turn their tassels.
Class of 2014 members’ dedication and hard work will pay off today as about 420 graduates march into Richmond Senior High School’s Raider Stadium and grasp diplomas in their youthful hands.
The 2014 commencement exercises begin at 8 p.m., a half-hour before sunset, with a full moon to shine down on attendees if skies are clear. A 50 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms is in the forecast.
Graduates of Leak Street High School enjoyed their ceremonies Thursday evening in the Kate Finley Auditorium at Rockingham Middle School, where 47 students in royal blue caps and gowns received their hard-earned diplomas.
Superintendent George E. Norris and Leak Street Principal Susan Brigman watched along with other district officials as the students marched in and stood with their heads held high as “Pomp and Circumstance” echoed in the auditorium.
Norris said the Leak Street High School graduation has always been a highlight during his years as superintendent.
“This is one of the most fun graduations I get to go to,” Norris said. “These kids are just so happy. Here they are, surrounded by people who have been with them through good and bad times, people who love them. To see them accomplish this is a great thing.”
Richmond Senior High School valedictorian Caroline Bartlett and salutatorian Caitlyn Adams will speak during the ceremonies Friday, along with senior class President Darshema Townsend.
RSHS Principal Keith McKenzie said the thrill and anticipation of this special day is worth the wait.
“As principal, you see the joy and sense of excitement that graduation day brings,” McKenzie said. “Our seniors finally realize that for 13 years the hard work, the long hours and the total commitment they have made finally has its reward. It is truly a day that is special to each and every one of us.”
Norris will look on as his last class of seniors take their first steps on a new journey, their futures beginning as his career comes to a bittersweet end. Norris plans to retire effective July 1.
“Commencement is a time of celebration for graduates and their families,” Norris said. “We in the Richmond County School system revel in our students’ successes. This is a time for our graduates to reflect and to thank their parents and teachers for their love and support.”
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-997-3111, ext. 15.