Hundreds of Chatham high school students walked across the graduation stage this weekend to receive their diplomas. It was a culminating celebration for a class that’s had to overcome a rollercoaster high school experience — virtual learning, in-class with masks and any of the other myriad ways the pandemic upended the typical educational experience.
Regardless, these students persevered and have finally made it to the end of the long winding road. In the next chapter, they’ll go on to the workforce, gap years and universities leaving behind a legacy for the next generation of students in Chatham County.
The next senior class will have big shoes to fill. This year's Chatham County Schools students earned more than $14 million in scholarship money, according to a release from CCS.
Each high school’s Class of 2022 received more than $1 million in scholarship funds. To date, class scholarship totals are:
“We are pleased that so many of our students received scholarship funds,” said Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson. “This reflects the caliber of our students, the level of work they put in and how our faculty and staff have helped encourage and challenge our students to achieve at their highest levels. We look forward to seeing what these students do in the future from the opportunities created by these scholarship funds.”
“Our students had a really outstanding year,” said Dr. Kelly Batten, executive director of secondary education and Career Technical Education for the school district. “We are really happy with what these funds will enable our students to do, and help them go to and graduate from college with less debt. It’s exciting to see the range of things for which they were recognized.”
At the Jordan-Matthews High School graduation in Siler City, graduating seniors shared words of wisdom for future graduates. They said self-care and preserving mental health amid the chaotic times of high school was the most important thing to keep in mind.
“My mental health was a big obstacle,” graduate Chloe Pace said. “Do your work, but take it easy and just go one day at a time.”
Pace will be attending to Fayetteville Technical Community College in the fall to become a mortician.
While each student has different next steps, for one final time last weekend, they were together celebrating the journey they took together to get to this step. J-M graduate Evelin Muñoz Tebalan will be going to UNC-Chapel Hill next fall.
“I think this is a rare class where we all had a common thing to overcome — the pandemic,” Muñoz Tebalan said. “It felt like our whole experience was rushed, but I’m glad we get this experience of graduation together.”
Beyond J-M, the News + Record captured snapshots of the graduation ceremonies across Chatham County Schools.
This story has been updated from its original version to include information about scholarship earnings from the Chatham County Schools class of 2022.
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