Every student, every class, has a story.
But at the end of the 2016 graduation season, it would be hard to find one more heart- warming than the story of the Bay High Class of 2016.
We've long known Bay St. Louis to be a special place. A Place Apart is its motto.
More and more people are discovering the Hancock County city, which the Census Bureau says is the second-fastest growing municipality in the state. From July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015, its population rose from 11,406 to 12,030, an increase of 5.5 percent. That's even above its pre-Katrina population.
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What's its draw? It has a vibrant downtown with restaurants, bars, art galleries and antiques. It promotes itself with events such as Second Saturday. Home-grown promoters have brought concerts to the civic center, nicknamed the "Garage Mahal," because it's perched atop a parking garage downtown. And it has excellent schools -- Bay High and St. Stanislaus and Our Lady Academy.
And its children, young adults now and the products of those schools, have proven to be just as special.
One such young adult, Christian Taylor Ivy, who like many with autism struggled to communicate, found his voice on a Friday night in the Bay thanks to his classmates, his teachers and community.
"I'm a superhero," he shouted as walked to receive his diploma from Bay High.
That was his one wish during high school. To play superhero. An Avenger, preferably.
That Friday he got his wish when Principal Amy Coyne gave him his Super Hero Award, and a shield and cape to go with it.
"Christian is not special because he has a disability," Life Skills instructor Lisa Bosarge told Stacey Cato of the Sea Coast Echo. "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."
Bay High is a fine school and it has given its graduates a leg up on the "real world."
The Class of 2016 leaves with more than $10 million in scholarships, which beat last year's school record by $1.6 million. And it's clear they learned some compassion along the way.
As Christian walked across the field to get his diploma, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. And afterwards, his fellow students lined up to give him hugs and gifts.
And so the Bay, and its Class of 2016, deserve a "standing O" from the rest of us.
This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.