Several seniors from Bandys High School expressed appreciation to the school community as they prepared to graduate on Saturday.
Toby Smith said he was grateful to the school for introducing him to welding.
“I tried it for the first time and I fell in love with it, so I thank the school for showing me that,” Smith said before the graduation ceremony.
Smith plans to attend to Catawba Valley Community College to continue his welding training.
For football player Maddox Spires, some of the best memories were of the support he and his team received from classmates.
“Every football game … the encouragement, excitement (from fellow students) was there,” said Spires.
He added: “Bandys High School has treated me very well.”
In her address to her fellow graduates, Class President Evie Staples described the group as a family. She said she was thankful for how the support of the Bandys community helped her grow as a person.
“If you would have told me four years ago that I would become senior class president and be delivering a speech at graduation, I would have told you that you were crazy. But through my Bandys family, I learned that I was much more than just a shy kid in the back of a classroom,” Staples said.
In addition to the students who came to receive their diplomas, a service dog named Cheddar also made the walk across the stage.
Ethan Winchell, the final student who walked, stepped onto the stage, he paused and did a flip directly in front of Catawba County Schools Superintendent Matt Stover before going on to accept his diploma.
The 2021 Bandys graduating class included 223 students.
Of those students, 30% plan to go to four-year college, 40% intend to attend a two-year college, 28% will go into the workforce and the remainder of the students will be enlisting in the military.
Students received a total of $4.5 million in scholarship money, according to a preliminary estimate provided by the school system.
Gallery: 2021 Bandys Graduation
Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.