GULFPORT -- Yongjun Lee, an exchange student from Korea, was perhaps the happiest Christian Collegiate Academy graduate Friday night. His parents and brother made it to Gulfport, even though their trip didn't go as planned.
His father is a pilot in Korea and the family flew on stand-by. When they reached a Texas airport, there was no room for them on flights to Gulfport in time for his celebrations.
So they drove the rest of the way and reached Bible Baptist Church in time for a morning awards program and the evening graduation.
"I'm just so happy they made it," said Yongjun, who studied at CCA for two years.
"I came here to experience something different," he said. "I wanted to step out of my little town and experience a different place."
He plans to study engineering at Mississippi State University, travel the world and become a missionary.
It was a banner school year, Principal Carol Roberts said. The school had 19 graduates -- its most ever in 44 years.
Four students received athletic scholarships. It's the first year CCA grads have earned athletic scholarships. Those and other graduates earned more than $400,000 in total scholarships.
Graduation was especially memorable for Roberts, because her son Devan graduated.
"CCA is not like any other school," valedictorian Micah Williams said.
"The faculty wants you to excel at academics, but they consider your personal relationship with Christ to be the most important thing."
Williams plans to attend the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minn.
Two grads tied for salutatorian. Hannah Brewer plans to attend Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Parker Peterman is bound for Mississippi College.
The grads also enjoyed the tradition of a combined celebration. Each had a table personalized with memorabilia from their school years.