Public schools celebrate graduation

First Posted: 6/18/2013

LUMBERTON — Jeremiah and Zechariah Bird were all smiles as they received their diplomas from Purnell Swett High School on Friday.

The 18-year-old twins joined almost 1,500 students to graduate this year from the Public Schools of Robeson County.

Jeremiah said he made it despite the struggles that all students face.

“It is a big accomplishment and I am very proud of me and my twin brother,” said Jeremiah, who plans to attend The University of North Carolina at Pembroke to study secondary education.

Zechariah is off to the Navy.

“It feels good. It is a relief to get these past 13 years behind me,” Zechariah said.

The Public Schools of Robeson County district held six graduations on Friday. Kevin Frierson’s family took photo after photo as the Fairmont senior received well wishes from fellow students and family. He was joyful, but said it was a rocky start after his family moved to Fairmont from California in 10th grade.

“I feel free. I was a little nervous, but now that it is over I feel good, and I am ready for the future,” said Frierson.

The Fairmont High graduate plans to move to Charlotte to study real estate.

At each graduation, students were showered with flowers, balloons and hugs. Leonel Flores said it was family support that made all the difference along this journey.

“It feels amazing. I have all my memories and everything, but I am ready for the future,” Flores said.

The Fairmont graduate plans to attend The University of North Carolina at Pembroke to major in pre-law to pursue his dream of becoming a prosecutor.

As parents beam with pride for the graduates, so do the school staff members. Principal Kent Prater said graduation is a day to celebrate, but also reflect on how far some of these students have come. Prater congratulated Willie Floyd for making it all the way. For Floyd the road to graduation wasn’t an easy one. The 19-year -old participated in LAP (Learning Acceleration Program). The program offers students who may have fallen behind the opportunity to catch up with their peers and graduate with their cohort group.

“It was hard, but I could not have made it without this schedule and the teachers, Mrs. Rhonda Horne and Mrs. Grantham. It is good to know I did something and I am proud of myself,” Floyd said.

Janeva Marie Moore said earning the title of Summa Cum Laude is one of her greatest accomplishments. The Purnell Swett grad plans to study nursing with a goal of PA school.

“I am so excited, it is unexplainable to know after all these years I finally accomplished to finish high school,” Moore said.

Hours after the graduation excitement started to settle, the seniors took buses to Project Graduation. The community sponsored, drug free celebration was held across the campus of UNCP. The graduates made music videos with friends, rode an electric bull, bowled, played pool and were entertained into the wee hours of the morning. The fun didn’t stop there as dozens of students won TVs, microwaves, video games and almost $5,000 in scholarships.

Darrion Cooper said it was a nice event for his friends.

“It allowed us let loose, like a party and dance, go play pool or bowl or just hang out,” Cooper said.

Joseph Harris said the event helped young people stay out of trouble.

“I had a lot of fun with my friends, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. All students should go,” the Fairmont graduate said.

This story was contributed by the Public Schools of Robeson County.