BILOXI -- All five members of Cedar Lake Christian Academy's Class of 2016 -- two girls and three boys -- sat together Thursday afternoon in polo shirts bearing their school's name. For their last day, they didn't have to wear their uniforms, but they chose to for their rehearsal. In just a few hours, they would return to the sanctuary of Cedar Lake Christian Assembly for their graduation ceremony then head into the world in different directions.
For three of the classmates, it will be the first time in years their lives will take different roads. The three boys have been at CLCA since kindergarten. With such a small group, it's inevitable the members feel more like siblings than classmates.
"Oh, we're most definitely family," said Michael Deutsch II of Ocean Springs, and his classmates all agreed.
Class valedictorian Grace Newton of Gulfport acknowledged the family relationship of the class.
"Boys, thank you for being my big brothers -- even though two of you are younger," she said. "I'm not an only child anymore. I have siblings."
All also agreed the highlight of their senior year was the school trip up the East Coast, which included Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.
As for their immediate future, the graduates have plans.
"I'm taking a gap year in England," Newton said.
Megan McGee of Biloxi will attend the Perkinston campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College for the first two years, then plans to pursue a history degree at Gettysburg College. Jaeden Alvarez of Biloxi will go to the Jeff Davis campus of MGCCC to take his basic college classes and explore possible majors while he's there. Deutsch plans to earn a nursing degree.
As for David Oliver, the class salutatorian, he has "definitely a lot of options, but I'm planning to go into full-time ministry."