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With graduation comes momentum, LCLA seniors told

The largest-ever graduating class at Lenoir County Learning Academy was urged to use the momentum of Tuesday’s commencement ceremony to move them ahead in the world.

Graduating seniors in white caps and gown turn tassels at commencement.“The diploma you received today will take you as far as you want to go,” LCLA principal Stephanie Smith told the 23 graduates. “Don’t stop here. Keep moving higher and higher. Go and do great things, for you, for your family and your community. The world is waiting on you, so go and make a difference.”

The district’s alternative school also recognized seven eighth-grade students in its Rights of Passage Ceremony, intended to provide encouragement as they move on to high school.

The Rev. Larry Walston, a behavior specialist with Lenoir County Public Schools, keynoted commencement for the second consecutive year. His message emphasized individual responsibility.

Male speaker in black pinstripe suit holds microphone“You are responsible for how people will remember you, so don’t take it lightly,” Walston said. “Class of 2024, now is the time to embrace the opportunity to change the world. You cannot win a race that you did not run.”

Recognized as outstanding students were graduating senior Maricela Decastro and middle school student Jamariez Randolph.

Rev. Walston, who pastors an AME Zion church in Jacksonville and has worked with youth groups at several churches in eastern North Carolina, urged the LCLA graduates to remember that they overcame disappointments to earn a seat at commencement and could prevail again if required.

“Many of you, in succeeding, have had to deal with disappointment at times in your life,” he said. “It’s not that you were disappointed that matters. What matters is what you do in your moments of disappointment.

“Class of 2024, it’s not how you started but how you finish that matters.”

The graduation ceremony, usually held at the chapel at Kennedy Home, where LCLA is located, was moved at the last minute to the gymnasium because of problems with the air conditioning in the chapel. In addition to the families and Female graduate in white cap and gown accept medal from female principal.friends who filed the gym, commencement also drew three members of the Lenoir County Board of Education – Vice Chair W.D. Anderson and members Elijah Woods and Merwyn Smith – and Superintendent Brent Williams, Associate Superintendent Frances Herring and Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II.

Graduating seniors are Jakayla Da’Sharie Barfield, Omarius Le-Terel Dawson, Maricela Alcantara Decastro, My’Keerion Ka’Mya Na’Keya Dove, Brianna Denise Garner, Jazmin Monae Godwin, Jeremy Se’Quan Graves, Lorenta’e Gray, Andre Pierre Hall, Zaria Jamese Hill, Nadia Zymer Hines, Alisha Neona Johnson, Jayla Janielle Kornegay, Ny’Zeer Shy’mon Lawson, Mo’Haganie McIver, Sean Reyes Olesen, Alexis Rae Parham, Anthony Thomas Robinson, Jah’Kiyah Princess Robinson, Naimah Monae Session and Clarissa Muriel Torres.

Tuesday’s ceremony was the first of four for LCPS high schools this week. Commencements will be held Saturday at Kinston, North Lenoir and South Lenoir high schools.

Photo captions (from top):

It was tassel-turning time for the Class of 2024 at Lenoir County Learning Academy on Tuesday. The school awarded diplomas to 23 seniors, the largest-ever graduating class for LCPS’s alternative school.

The Rev. Larry Walston, commencement speaker

Maricela Decastro accepts her Outstanding Senior award from principal Stephanie Smith.