When "Pomp and Circumstance" began playing over the speakers, a swell of applause and cheers broke out.
The small group of young men in shiny, red robes and hats walked through the gym and up the middle of two sets of chairs, high-fiving and shaking hands along the way as the boisterous crowd continued cheering.
And while there may have been only 15 graduates, family, friends, school staff and all those in attendance to support the young men made enough noise to fill the Silver Oak Academy gym.
Silver Oak Academy is a private, residential all-boys facility contracted by the state for youth who have been in trouble with the law. The 2017 June graduates from the school in Middleburg will be heading off in multiple directions, from the workforce to a two- or four-year college to the armed services.
The graduation ceremony was like most others — there were guest speakers, awards were given and graduation caps were tossed in the air at the end.
But for many of the young men moving forward from the Silver Oak Academy system, this graduation is something they didn't think possible not so long ago.
Graduate Gavin Johnson, of Baltimore City, said he would not have graduated from high school if it weren't for Silver Oak.
"The program helped me change my attitude and my thinking process," Johnson said.
It changed his life, he added. After graduation, Johnson said he's going to be working at a barber shop in Baltimore.
Ahmad Sulaiman, a graduate from Montgomery County, echoed those thoughts.
Sulaiman said he'd been to programs similar to that of Silver Oak Academy but none worked for him. His 10 months in the school made him a better person, he added.
The staff is what really sets the school apart from other similar institutions, Sulaiman said.
"It's an experience I can't forget," he said.
After Silver Oak, Sulaiman is heading to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in the hopes of getting into sports medicine or being a veterinary technician. He'll also be playing basketball for the school, he said.
Silver Oak Academy's graduation focused on the future, and the journey ahead for the young men heading out into the world.