450 receive diplomas during Patrick Henry High School commencement ceremony

Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Graduating seniors at Patrick Henry High School received their diplomas Thursday during a commencement ceremony at the Berglund Center.

It was a traditional celebration for students who showed resilience during challenging times.

“Wasn’t it just the first day of kindergarten or sixth grade or freshman year?” asked salutatorian Ann Foust Bailey .

Speakers touched on themes that were familiar to anyone who remembers their high school experience. And they acknowledged the unique challenges the class faced during the pandemic.

“And don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do,” said Superintendent Verletta White, “because you’ve already done it.”

“Knowing what we’ve been through throughout this pandemic and other factors, the students really excelled,” Chief Academic Officer Archie Freeman told WDBJ7. “And it made me feel great to see them smiling today, excited about walking across the stage, excited about the next chapter in their life.”

The crowd cheered and the students rose to their feet, during the presentation of a diploma to the mother of Isiah Robinson, their classmate who was shot to death in Blacksburg this year.

The graduating class was a large one, with about 450 seniors preparing for the next chapter of their lives.

“Honestly it doesn’t feel real right now,” said Khaliah Campbell, who gathered with her family after the ceremony. “But I made it. It’s been a long journey, but we made it. We made it to the day I’ve been waiting for.”

“My sophomore and junior year got kind of cut off, so it feels like a giant gap in time from when I started my freshman year until now,” said Matthew Kreppeneck. “But I’m super-excited. It’s fun to be here with all of my friends and I can’t wait to see what I do next.”

Thursday’s ceremony was only part of the equation for Roanoke City Public Schools.

The 370 graduating seniors at William Fleming High School will have their moment in the spotlight, during their commencement ceremony at the Berglund Center Friday morning.

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