Return to Headlines

Early College kicks off commencement season

Forty-three high school seniors in black cap and gown pose on steps for class photo

The Class of 2024 at Lenoir County Early College High School inaugurated graduation season for Lenoir County Public Schools on Wednesday night by awarding diplomas to 43 seniors, 35 of whom went on the next night to receive degrees from Lenoir Community College.

“Aren’t we so proud of this group of young people?” LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams asked the commencement audience in LCC’s gymnasium. “They have so many more opportunities that we did and they are using those opportunities, grabbing those opportunities and taking them forward to greater and greater heights.”

Thirty-one of the seniors left high school as honor graduates, earning a GPA of 3.5 or better. Singled out for special recognition by Early College principal Steve Saint-Amand were Shamiah Hall, who won a top merit scholarship to North Carolina A&T State University, and Adi Patel, who earned a high school diploma and associate degrees in just two years.

“This class has truly been dedicated to leaving their mark on Lenoir County Early College,” Saint-Amand said in his commencement remarks. “The Class of 2024’s persistence has certainly paid off. Although few in number, your accomplishments are considerable.”

All graduates, Saint-Amand said, have made “definitive promising plans” for the future – continuing to a two-year or four-year college, entering the military or joining the workforce. Five graduates have been selected for Honors College at the university they will attend. The class amassed more than $1.2 million in scholarship offers.

“Today is such a great accomplishment for all of us,” Elijah Heath told his classmates in one of three commencement addresses by seniors. “As we continue our lives after high school, measure your accomplishments by the time and work that you put into it, not how you compare to what others have achieved.”

Hanna Van, who spoke as the class representative, thanked the Early College staff “for guiding 14-year-old me to become the best version of myself now.” She also offered advice to underclassmen that may apply as well to the Class of 2024: “Don’t worry about how much worse life might get. Focus on the things that make life better already. Those things will accumulate more than you think.”

Kayden See considered the choices she and her classmates had to make to get to graduation night. “We are all here, despite challenges we faced,” she said. “I’m not just talking about academics. I’m talking about the growth in character, crossing bridges you never had actually crossed and many other things that are important to us and important to others around us. I know we all have our own paths. Each is important and each has an impact on those around you. I hope that impact is for the better.”

Graduating with honors Wednesday night were:

  • Summa Cum Laude (With Highest Honor) – Madeline Leila Arriela, Briley Carter Bravo, Kirsten Elayna Casias, Kalyania Mi’Joy Yazmese Clark, Bradleigh Susan Corey, Ryan Christopher Grant, Shamiah Nicole Hall, Elijah Allen Heath, Ariana Yuritzi Hernandez-Rico, Ava Grace Howard, Meadow Nicole Jones, Luis Angel Ovando-Jimenez, Adi Hitesh Bharat Patel, Alfredo Sanchez Rivera, Kayden Nicole See, Faith Nicole Stainaker, Hannah Ni Van, Bryan Villasenor-Medina and Joanna Yamilet Yanez.
  • Magna Cume Laude (With Great Honor)—Emily Alvarez-Salas, Crystal Cheyenne Cheston, William Oliver Davis III, Brendan Emory Dawson, Amanda Ruth Glen, Kailey Catherine McKinney and Na’Laysia Keishona Taylor
  • Cum Laude (With Honor) – Nathally Aguilar-Tenorio, Anthony Cruz Nieves Cabrera, Justin Darrell Cooper, Emma Faith Foyles and Kaitlyn Elizabeth Minder.

Because Early College High School follows the calendar of LCC, which hosts the school, it begins and ends the school year earlier than other LCPS high schools. The other four high schools will hold commencement exercises in June – Lenoir County Learning Academy on June 4 and Kinston, North Lenoir and South Lenoir high schools all on June 8.