Independence graduation

The Independence High School Class of 2021 files into their commencement ceremony June 1 at the Bojangles' Coliseum. Screenshot from YouTube

CHARLOTTE — Independence High School Principal David Legrand is tired of hearing the word “unprecedented” when talking about the past 15 months of the pandemic. Still, he said it’s the best way to describe the final leg of the Class of 2021’s high school journey.

Legrand asked the graduating seniors during their June 1 commencement to think back to March 2020, “when everything we knew about school drastically changed,” and how far they’ve come since then.

“What seemed like an impossible school year at the beginning was somehow made possible,” Legrand said. “Having school online seemed impossible. Having athletic competition seemed impossible. Bringing students back into the building at one point in time seemed impossible.”

But to quote Nelson Mandela: “It is always impossible until it’s done,” Legrand said.

He told grads that separating the first two letters from the word “impossible” actually spells “I’m possible,” and to remember that whenever they face a challenge.

“We persevered through an unprecedented, impossible year,” Legrand said. “We continued to be the Big I and we found our school community transcended building walls and the spirit of who we are could not be broken by a pandemic.”

Legrand reminded the Class of 2021 of what they made possible despite their challenges, like getting into their college of choice, becoming basketball conference champions, putting on a production of “Clue,” making the honor roll, entering the workforce, joining the military, receiving over $1.7 million in college scholarships and shattering athletic records. In February, senior Jessica Timmons broke a 28-year-old Mecklenburg County girls basketball scoring record for public school players.

“May you continue to see the possibilities in any situation,” Legrand said.

Salutatorian Josh Ponder echoed Legrand’s acknowledgment of how his class overcame obstacles to achieve “the great goal of graduating.” He thanked his teachers for guiding them and his classmates for sticking with it, even when put to the test.

“It’s nothing short of amazing what we’ve accomplished this year and the last four years,” Ponder said. “I know that we will continue to achieve great things and accomplish what we set our minds to."

Watch the Independence High School Class of 2021 commencement below:

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