Class of 2017

Cousins lead the way as the top two Vancleave High grads

Two by two, dressed in Vancleave Bulldog blue, they entered the Coast Coliseum with two cousins leading the way.

"That's what I wanted all through high school," said valedictorian Michaela Goff. She and her cousin, salutatorian Stephanie Goff flipped back and forth from first to second in the class. They started kindergarten together and Stephanie Goff said, "Since the first we've been inseparable."

That won't change after they graduate. Both will attend the University of South Alabama, Michaela Goff to get a degree in nursing on her way to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner and Stephanie Goff to study engineering.

Bling was the thing, and the medals the graduating class received for Mississippi Scholar, Tech Masters and other awards clinked as they began their last walk together toward the stage -- "163 students strong," said Principal Anthony Gruich.

He doesn't know of any other time cousins finished in the top two spots and he said, "We're proud of that. Both are fantastic young ladies."

Class historian David Gardner recalled Hurricane Katrina in second grade, dances, dodge ball and an icy snow storm that closed the school. Stephanie Goff advised the graduates to "choose the job that will make you want to roll out of bed with a smile on your face," and Michaela Goff reminded them, "We are the future and the future is ours."

Their families were there with cameras, tears and cheers.

"It's a big community celebration in Vancleave when you send a new group of adults into the world," Gruich said.

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