SEVEN SPRINGS - One by one they stepped into the Spring Creek High School gymnasium.
Only this day had a different meaning, though.
Some already dressed and others carrying their kelly green graduation gowns over their shoulders, they shared high-fives and laughter.
Cameras clicked freely and froze moments in time.
Staff members adjusted sashes, tassels and honor cords. They held back emotions as they hugged the students they once remembered as quiet freshmen who had not found their identity as teenagers.
“I’m so proud of you,” said one teacher to a student.
Each wiped away a tear.
They began to line up in order behind marshals, who’d lead them to the next step in their respective lives.
Memories of struggling with combinations to their lockers and resilient from a difficult year filled with frustrating challenges, the class of 2021 exited the gym and walked toward the football field.
Air horns and cheers from an overflow crowd of supporters greeted the young men and women who walked toward their respective seat.
“We’ve overcome the pandemic and remote learning to be here, and have endured quite a bit over the last few years that has shaped us into the people we are today,” said Samantha Holland, senior class president.
“Today we stand proudly in front of our teachers, administrators, friends and family respecting our accomplishments. It’s a perfect time to sit back and recognize how far we have come.
“We are moving forward into tomorrow with confidence into the great unknown that has limitless opportunities for us.”
Spring Creek Principal Steve Clingan doled out diplomas to approximately 150 students.
The class of 2021 included 22 Latin honor scholars, 12 North Carolina Academic Scholars and 35 honor graduates.
As they anticipated turning their tassels, senior class secretary Cayleigh Summerlin shared a story about a hummingbird and a vulture. She said vultures look back on their mistakes, missed opportunities and live in a “would-a, should-a, could-a” world.
Summerlin encouraged her classmates to fly freely as the hummingbird, which always looks for a bright new flower.
“Each day is a new day to start over and seek life - build new bridges, share your story with a new person, introduce a new thought or idea,” Summerlin said. “If you approach each day as a hummingbird you will see a growth and abundance in your life.
“We have a choice. Let’s choose to be the hummingbird.”
Summa Cum Laude: Mintzy Aguilar-Valenzuela, Lucas Barfield, Ariadne Lugo-Cruz, Joselyn Lugo-Cruz, Zachariah Moore, Victoria Perry and Leslie Reyes-Melendez.
Magna Cum Laude: Mark Aviles, Marshall Outlaw, Ashley Ramos, Anna West.
Cum Laude: Jacob Macanas, TaKayla Melvin, Sebastian O’Malley, Ericka Parra, Logan Pollock, Alissa Price, Alejandro Rivera, Estephany Sanchez, Linsey Smith, Ariadna Soria Huerta and Aniya Williams.
Honor Graduates: Mintzy Aguilar-Valenzuela, Amirah Allen, Mark Aviles, Lucas Barfield, Mijae Barnes, Joshua Caldwell, Douglas Davidson, William Ervin, Ariadne Lugo-Cruz, Joselyn Lugo-Cruz, Jacob Macanas, Nathan Martinez, TaKayla Melvin, Jennifer Mitchell, Zachariah Moore, Mariah Mozingo, Sebastian O’Malley, Onaldine Oriol, Marshall Outlaw, Ericka Parry, Victoria Perry, Yoly Perez-Hernandez, Logan Pollock, Alissa Price, Ashley Ramos, Leslie Reyes-Melendez, Alejandro Rivera, Rodney Rouse, Estephany Sanchez, Yadira Simon-Perez, Linsey Smith, Ariadna Soria-Huerta, Anna West, Aniya Williams and Jett-Payne Zimmerman.
North Carolina Academic Scholars: Mintzy Aguilar-Valenzuela, Mark Aviles, Ariadne Lugo-Cruz, Joselyn Lugo-Cruz, Zachariah Moore, Victoria Perry, Alissa Price, Leslie Reyes-Melendez, Estephany Sanchez, Linsey Smith, Ariadna Soria-Huerta and Anna West.
Senior Class Officers: Samantha Holland (president), Denisse Romero (Vice President), Cayleigh Summerlin (secretary) and Imari Flowers (treasurer).
Marshals: Anna Evans (chief), Claire Denton (assistant chief marshal), Yerika Lopez-Garcia (assistant chief marshal), Oswaldo Escudero, Jackson Evans, Olivia Hernandez-Fierros, Riley Hill, Nicholas Jones, Susan Santos-Diaz, Robert Strickland, Evan Sutton, Edgar Victoriano-Apolonio, Bethany Warren and Destiny Wilson.