INDIAN TRAIL – Porter Ridge graduate Hannah Williams said four years of high school have helped students make friends and discover new strengths and passions. For her, she realized an interest in agricultural education and veterinary care. 

But the past four years have also come with many life lessons, especially the past year due to COVID-19.

The pandemic canceled sports, prom and other events that comprise the high school experience. 

Williams believes the Class of 2021 will look back at these times not as tragedy and loss but through the lens of perseverance, determination and unity.

“If nothing else, our experience with COVID-19 will give some interesting stories to tell our children one day,” she said at commencement. “And to our parents and grandparents in the audience, don't worry, we'll exaggerate every detail just like you do in your childhood stories.”

Many walked across the stage June 2 to receive their high school diplomas. Student Body President Caroline Kramb said the diploma represents strength, determination and resilience. 

Kramb said resilience will stay with the Class of 2021 and help graduates through struggles and failures. She quoted Michelle Obama: Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience. Don't be afraid to fail.”

Principal Kim Fisenne described the 379 students in the Class of 2021 as remarkable, earning $9.7 million in scholarship offers. Some 42% of graduates are going to a four-year college or university, 34% are going to a two-year college, 22% are starting their careers and five are enlisting in the military.

She challenged students to take the respect they've given to their classmates and staff at Porter Ridge beyond the school.

“We know that when we sit together, this is an easy idea to embrace because we all have something in common – this school,” she said. “My challenge to you today is to take that idea of a respectful culture and bring it forward with you as you begin your next chapter. Make a decision that you will foster that culture of respect everywhere you go.

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