North Laurel High School held its commencement ceremony Saturday morning where hundreds of students graduated.

The ceremony started with the presentation of the colors by North Laurel’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Color Guard, the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by North Laurel’s choir, a student-led prayer, a brief welcome by Principal Michael Black, the singing of “For Good” by North Laurel’s choir, leading up to the senior class president address from Blaine Smith.

“Whenever I look around at our class, I can genuinely say that I’ve gotten to know most of you on a somewhat personal level and I know that we all have potential to succeed,” Smith said. “We’ve all been given the tools. It’s going to be about how we choose to use these tools.”

Smith went on to say that the success of those graduating isn’t measured by the wealth or material possessions they acquire.

“At the end of the day, what’s really important is whether or not we can look back and say we have honestly lived the best life we could and be content with the decisions we made each day,” Smith said. “If so, then we’ve done it. That is success.”

Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett then took the stage and told those graduating six brief principles to live by: keep learning and striving, maintain a strong faith in something bigger than yourself, work hard to be your best, be original, love your country and follow the golden rule of treating others how you want to be treated.

“Following these principles will help you be wildly successful in this next leg of your journey,” Bennett said.

The three salutatorians spoke after Bennett. Lauren House spoke first, saying most of the time graduation is spent reflecting on the past four years, so she will instead be focusing on the upcoming years of their lives.

“Class of 2019, I encourage you to embrace the opportunities and changes headed your way,” House said. “I encourage you step outside your comfort zone and believe in yourself, even when the odds are against you.”

Emily Miniard spoke about how everyone was excited for graduation, but recognized the bittersweet feeling that comes with it.

“We thought it would never come but it has, and now that it has, I can’t help but feel saddened by its arrival because it marks the end of something great in all our lives,” Miniard said.

Myra Neeraj was the last salutatorian to address the crowd, speaking about how proud she was of her fellow classmates for making it through high school despite how difficult it can be sometimes.

“Each and every single one of you are destined to become something great,” Neeraj said. “You are not just another face in the crowd. You are distinctly unique.”

Class valedictorian Kinley Jarvis was the last student speaker before the diplomas were given to the graduates. She recognized this day could be the last time the class of 2019 will all be in a room together.

“After we graduate we will go on our separate paths and we may never see some of the people in this room again, so look around and take it all in,” Jarvis said. “Some of us will go to college, some will go into the workforce and some will join various military branches. Regardless of what you are doing, I am proud of each and every one of you.”

During the presentation of diplomas, there was a long round of applause for Bobbie LeeAnn Phillips when her name was called. Phillips was a student in the class of 2019 who passed away on August 21, 2018.

The ceremony, held in the high school’s gymnasium, was crowded with students’ families, friends and school faculty in nearly every direction, as the bleachers were full, standing room in the back and the gym’s upper-level balcony was packed.

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