The lobby of the East Wake High School campus overflowed on Tuesday night with emotional families, smiling graduates and many boyfriends and girlfriends proudly hugging each other.
Although not all of the graduates of the four schools showed up to their mid-year graduation, about half of the 50 students crossed the stage in the auditorium to accept their diploma, expressing their gratitude to family, friends and teachers along with future plans.
Dr. Larry Lindsay, history teacher for the East Wake School of Engineering Systems, spoke to the students, encouraging them that he also was recently a mid-year PhD graduate at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest.
Regardless of whether students finished early or late, he said, graduating mid-year takes a unique pathway and requires special qualities.
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“You have to figure things out on your own, and develop a plan,” he said. He also told the graduates they had shown fortitude, and pushed them to finish with pride.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t make it. You guys have carried out your plan. And sometimes, even when that’s hard,” Lindsay said.
Maria Loiacono, a graduate of the East Wake School of Arts, Education and Global Studies, proved that maxim by showing up to graduation after recovering from a severe car wreck in Wendell in early January.
As relatives waited for the recognitions, Jasmine Hudson, a graduate of the East Wake School of Integrated Technology, encouraged family and friends to celebrate with gusto. “Parents, when the name of your graduate is called, please feel free to clap your hands, stomp your feet, and yell as we celebrate this special occasion.”
Families eagerly obliged.
Many of the graduates of the four schools were already enrolled in college or had plans to attend in the fall. Others were planning to join the military or dive into the workforce.
School of Health Science graduate Desirae Wiggins is already enrolled in the nursing program at Wake Technical College and will be starting classes in March.
“I’m relieved, I was so ready to graduate,” she said.
Many students were also ready to get out on their own, like Chaz Johnson, a graduate of the East Wake School of Integrated Technology.
As he crossed the stage, counselor Reginald Lowery read:
“After graduation, Chaz plans on getting a job so he has money to afford his own things. Also, Chaz would like to thank his parents for not pushing him and allowing him to do his own thing.”