BAY ST. LOUIS -- The 111-member Bay High School Class of 2016 celebrated its graduation in style on Friday evening, granting one classmate his greatest wish.
"I would love to play a super hero," Christian Taylor Ivy wrote in this year's Tiger yearbook. "I wish I could be in 'The Avengers,' kicking butt."
Christian - who has autism - was recognized at graduation as Bay High School's "Super Hero."
During the ceremony, Principal Dr. Amy Coyne presented him with the award, along with a shield and cape.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
Coyne said the Super Hero Award is a reminder of what one strives to be. It demonstrates perseverance and courage to overcome great obstacles in order to achieve one's goals and to always keep a positive outlook, she said.
"All you have to do is spend a few minutes with Christian and you'll see how blessed you truly are," Coyne said, her voice breaking. "It's hard to imagine Bay High without him. He's been the light sometimes when things were a little dark. He gives you hope. He is a super hero to all of us at Bay High School."
Christian was born with autism and spent most of his life unable to express himself. But on Friday night, in front of his entire graduating class, Christian found his voice.
"I'm a super hero!" Christian shouted as he walked across the field in his cap and gown to receive his diploma.
The crowd responded with a standing ovation for the 19-year-old graduate.
Life Skills Instructor Lisa Bosarge said she had the pleasure of working with Christian over the past four years.
"Christian is not special because he has a disability, he is special because of who he is, how he treats others, and what he has done for all of us at Bay High School," Bosarge said.
Dozens of students met Christian on the field after graduation. He was overwhelmed by the amount of gifts and hugs he had received.
He even turned to his brother and apologized. "There's just so much, I'm sorry," Christian said with a look of surprise.
His brother smiled and said, "It's okay Christian. Just enjoy."
Benita, Christian's mother, said her son has been very emotional about graduating from Bay High.
"School was a place he loved and thought of as his family away from home," she said.
School leaders and students said the halls at Bay High will certainly feel empty without his presence.
Christian isn't the only "super" Bay High grad - the class overall earned a record $10,051,216 worth of scholarship offers, beating last year's school record by $1.6 million.
"The accomplishments of the class of 2016 have left a mark on the Bay St. Louis -Waveland School District," Dr. Rebecca Ladner, superintendent, said, "and I wish all the graduates a bright future."