The Edgewood High School gym was packed Tuesday night with grandparents, parents, siblings and friends eager to show their support for the graduating Class of 2012.
An atmosphere of anticipation bordering on anxiousness filled the gym. The tension increased until it finally exploded in a roar of applause as the graduates filed down the center aisle. Above them, painted in bold red letters on the white walls of the gym, was "EDGEWOOD PRIDE HOME OF THE RAMS."
Speeches from members of the senior class student government emphasized the pride the students had in their school, and in themselves. Jaron Darden, senior class secretary, spoke of how Edgewood High School has cast off its "uneasy reputation" and become a "great" school where students excel in academics, character and extracurricular activities.
Destani Jameson, senior class vice president, told her classmates that the world has no idea what the students from Edgewood could and would do. Her statement was supported by the presence of Edgewood alumni who had, just that morning, been inducted into the Edgewood Hall of Fame. Among the alumni were Army Maj. Gen. George H. Harmeyer (Class of 1961) and Mountain Christian School Principal Nadine Haas Wellington (Class of 1972). The high-achieving alumni were symbolic of Edgewood High School's past and of the potential futures for the students about to receive their diplomas.
Valedictorian Caitlin Gross spoke of how the high school graduation ceremony is an important event in a person's life because it marks not only the conclusion of the students' academic efforts, but also the passage of the graduates from the world of teenagers to the world of adults, with all the responsibilities and privileges adulthood entails. Her speech reflected the mix of emotions felt by many parents and students during graduation season.
Graduate Janai Caldwell agreed, saying that she felt "overwhelmed, excited, even kind of nervous."
The dominant emotion when the graduates walked across the stage, however, was euphoria. Friends and family whistled and cheered as the 250 names of the graduating class were read by Edgewood High School Principal Larissa Santos.
"It's been a long road," Monique Kennedy, whose stepson, Stephan Cooper Jr., was among the graduates, said. "It feels good to be here. We're excited, very excited."