St. Martin High School's 2016 graduates began their commencement program Monday night by walking through a candlelit path formed by several dozen school district teachers -- representing elementary, middle school and high school.
"We light their path," said one teacher during the ceremony at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
Valedictorian Olivia George described her path to graduation and beyond in the form of doors of the past, present and future, and thanked the school's faculty for helping "unlock" a key door in their lives.
"The past is where we come from, it's the room behind us and who we leave behind," George said. "The present listens to our very own compass and determines which way to go. The future door is that space before us; it is the place we want to be with one foot in behind us, one hand on the door and one foot across the threshold. The door on this stage is open and it wouldn't be open without the help of those around us."
Salutatorian Jordan Wescovich made a three-step recommendation to the class for success in life:
1. Don't dwell on the past; it already happened.
2. Don't fret over the future too much.
3. Live each day as if it's the last.
A member of the St. Martin state championship girls' golf team, Wescovich quoted her golf coach.
"It's not how good your good shots are, it's how good your bad shots are."
Both George and Wescovich will take their aspirations to the University of Mississippi in the fall, George majoring in international studies with a concentration in East Asia, Wescovich in chemical engineering. Historian Tan Tran will travel to Mississippi State University and also major in chemical engineering.
Principal Dina Holland proudly announced that 55 percent of her senior class qualified for honors, special honors, advanced diplomas and as distinguished scholars. This year's class further received over $10 million in scholarships and grants.