Amelia Lawrence, speaking before the graduates and students at the Pascagoula High School commencement, recalled being intimidated when she entered high school her freshman year.
That’s not strange for a freshman but Lawrence had an extra reason. Her parents had homeschooled her until ninth grade.
Her fears soon melted away, though, from the warmth of the student body and her teachers, she said.
“Everybody was really warm and generous and unquestionably accepting,” she recalled, now standing before the audience as valedictorian. “My teachers encouraged me; one told me during my freshman year that I could be a valedictorian one day.”
Lawrence not only improved her speaking, but learned an entire second language, which she demonstrated by delivering part of her address in fluent Spanish.
“We studied different cultures and learned to look at both Mexico and America with kindness and respect and also learned to understand each other,” she said.
Lawrence will enroll at the University of Mississippi in pre-law.
Salutatorian Caroline Ko will enroll at Harvard and major in international studies and public policies with a goal of becoming a U.S. ambassador. Trevor Perry, Jada Ruffin and Makenzie Sanabria rounded out the top five of Pascagoula’s graduates.
The school accumulated more than $7.5 million in scholarships.
Pascagoula High School
Valedictorian: Amelia Lawrence, daughter of Scott and Danielle Lawrence
Salutatorian: Caroline Ko, daughter of Pengleap Ko and Jenyfer Keang
Principal: Anthony Herbert Sr.
Class size: 256
Class Color: Blue
Class Flower: Rose
Class Song: “Never Forget You,” by Zara Larsson
Class Motto: “Cherish yesterday, live for today and reach for tomorrow.” — Richard Bach