Midtown Raleigh News

In Raleigh, caps flying

It’s that time of year: the turned tassels, the tossed caps, the grinning graduates gripping diplomas while tearful parents stockpile snapshots.

But behind the repetitive rituals are unique stories of lives about to launch into a wide-open future. Even the commencement ceremonies themselves hold more than meets the eye.

There are the students in Heritage High School’s first-ever graduates, just three of them, with every final move continuing to create school traditions from scratch.

Or the two valedictorians at Wakefield High School, sharing GPAs and spots on the graduation program before scattering to school far from home in Indiana and Tennessee.

This year’s graduates stride from the stage as bold and as fearful as the classes that came before – read inside for graduation info and insight from the valedictorians, in their own words.

Athens Drive High School

Graduation date: Saturday, June 9

Time: 6 p.m.

Location: Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts

Class size: 371 students

Valedictorian: Xiaoxiang Yang

Advice: “You should enjoy your school life while working diligently,” Xiaoxiang said.

Broughton High School

Graduation date: Friday, June 8

Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Broughton High School gym

Class size: 508

Valedictorian: Jade Enns

Advice: “It is never worth it to miss out on an opportunity to grow because you are too afraid of a challenge,” Jade said.

Cardinal Gibbons High School

Graduation date: May 27

Location: Meymandi Concert Hall

Class size: 285

Valedictorian: Elizabeth Buckley

Defining moment for her class: February’s groundbreaking on major new school construction.

“It was a reminder of how even though we would be leaving Cardinal Gibbons, we would continue to be a part of the Gibbons community,” Elizabeth said.

Enloe Magnet High School

Graduation date: Friday, June 8

Time: 8 a.m.

Location: Raleigh Convention Center

Class size: 580

Valedictorian: Ivan Kuznetsov

Favorite teacher: “I was fortunate to have really great teachers who...have not only helped me succeed academically, but have also kept my curiosity alive,” Ivan said.

Heritage High School

Graduation date: Friday, June 8

Time: 9 a.m.

Location: Heritage High School auditorium

Class size: 3

Valedictorian: None

Leesville Road High School

Graduation date: Thursday, June 7

Time: 4 p.m.

Location: Raleigh Convention Center

Class size: 472

Valedictorian: Larry Han

Advice: “Use a poor grade on an assignment as motivation to recommit yourself. Failure should be seen as an igniter, lighting the spark that leads you to succeed,” Larry said.

Millbrook Magnet High School

Graduation date: Saturday, June 9

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: Raleigh Convention Center

Class size: 535

Valedictorian: Amir Jabr

Important life experience: “I gained a lot from studying in Syria. It feels great to know a different language,” Amir said.

Raleigh Charter High School

Graduation date: June 1

Location: Meymandi Hall

Class size: 134

Valedictorian: None

Defining moment for the class of 2012: Moving into the new building last June.

On why the school chooses not to rank its students by academics: “We want students to challenge themselves with rigorous courses because they want to learn, not because it will make them have a better GPA,” school spokeswoman Glenda Atkinson said.

Ravenscroft School

Graduation date: June 1

Location: Ravenscroft School campus green

Class size: 115 students

Valedictorian: Josh Silver

Sanderson High School

Graduation date: Saturday, June 9

Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Progress Energy Center

Class size: 424

Valedictorian: Keegan McBride

Advice: “If you have a question, ask it. That’s what teachers are for,” Keegan said.

Southeast Raleigh High School

Graduation date: May 29

Location: Progress Energy Center

Class size: 329

Valedictorian: Ozioma Obi-Onuoha

Favorite teacher: Rachel Davis, German. “Even when we disagree, we are still able to have a passionately respectful exchange of thoughts and ideas,” Ozioma said.

Wake Forest-Rolesville High School

Graduation date: Friday, June 8

Time: Noon

Location: Raleigh Convention Center

Class size: 510

Valedictorian: Cameron Gainey

Advice: “If you put forth the effort, you will achieve your goals,” Cameron said.

Wakefield High School

Graduation date: Thursday, June 7

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: Raleigh Convention Center

Class size: 613

Valedictorians: Mariana Stanson and Chadwick Fishel

Advice: “Learn from your mistakes and accept the memories gained along the way,” Mariana said.

Staff writer Kelli Straka contributed to this report

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