On Saturday morning as Havelock High seniors were arriving for graduation, a thunderstorm moved in, producing heavy rain.
Some of the students had umbrellas, but that was little match for the driving rain. At the least, their shoes were wet. Others had wet dresses or pants and water dripping from their hair.
"It’s just the luck of 2013," graduate Julie Snead told us of the rainy weather on graduation day.
But by the end of the ceremony, as the new grads emerged from the school, diplomas in hand, onto the back terrace behind the gymnasium where commencement was held, the clouds were starting to part and the sun was breaking through.
The gray skies had cleared up, and families, friends and graduates had put on their happy faces.
This past school year was a trying one to say the least at Havelock High. Principal Jeff Murphy did a nice job during his opening speech at the ceremony in acknowledging the "tumultuous events" the students went through in 2012-13 without harping on it, wanting the seniors to enjoy their moment of graduation.
Still, it was nice to see Glenn Poole walk across the stage and receive his diploma from Lane Mills, superintendent of Craven County Schools. Poole nearly drowned while on a field trip in the fall. The actions of fellow graduates Abby Clark and Will Blythe along with teacher Rob Thomas helped save his life.
Poole was in the hospital for weeks and faced a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation process. Yet there he was Saturday, walking across the stage to receive his diploma.
One person sadly absent from graduation was Amanda Lawrence Lane. The math teacher collapsed in the Havelock High library and later died on March 22. She was just 33 years old and was considered passionate about math and teaching.
School is about learning lessons, and this year’s graduates certainly will be taking some life lessons with them as they leave Havelock High School.
But on Saturday, the graduates weren’t thinking of lessons. Student after student wore bright smiles. After all, when they entered Havelock High School as freshmen, graduation was a goal four long years away. Saturday’s commencement marked the completion of that goal, an accomplishment made all the more sweeter considering the challenges that school and life as a teenager can provide.
Ashley Bickel, senior class president, put it all in perspective during her speech to the graduates.
"Although our time here has come to an end," she said, "our legacy will echo through these hallways."