Ocracoke School launched four seniors Sunday night during graduation ceremonies in the school gym.
Valedictorian was Zackery Jordan “Jordy” Jenkins, who is a commercial fisherman and will attend the College of the Albemarle in the fall. He received $4,562 in scholarships, including one from the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association.
Casey Camden Tolson was the salutatorian and begins work immediately with the North Carolina Ferry Division. He will also fish commercially. He received the National Career Readiness Certificate, an industry-based honor from the governor that certifies workplace skills for students immediately entering the workplace.
Diana Perez will attend East Carolina University in the fall and will pursue a career in the medical field. She received $16,162 in scholarships, including the $10,000 People Helping People State Employees’ Credit Union scholarship.
Miguel Monter will work in the kitchen at Gaffer’s.
“He’s going to be a wonderful chef someday,” said Laura Kelly, school principal in an interview Monday about the four-member class and added that Perez is considering becoming a doctor.
Kelly recently announced her resignation at the end of June and will return to Franklin County to work in the school system there and be closer to her extended family.
“They’re all really wonderful,” Kelly said about the seniors and the Ocracoke school children she has gotten to know this school year.
“This is an awesome place and it holds a special place in my heart,” she said, “but there’s a two-year-old grandson who’s calling my name.”
Kelly noted that while the Class of 2013 had only four students, classes behind them are growing, such as pre-K, which will have 18 students in the fall, among the largest classes ever for Ocracoke. There were 19 students in eighth grade this year, but that dropped down to 18 during the year. Both first and ninth grades will have 17 children.
The elementary building behind the main school building has classrooms large enough for all these students, “but we’re going to need to grow,” Kelly said.
One of those options will probably be the building owned by the Hyde County School District that currently houses the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, which will move into new quarters being built along Highway 12.
Walter Padgett, the school principal for two years before Kelly, was the commencement speaker and Kelly and Dr. Randolph Latimore, superintendent of Hyde County schools, awarded the diplomas.
The Rev. Ivey Belch, pastor of the Ocracoke Assembly of God Church, presented the Community Service Award to Howard Bennick, a tradition by Ocracoke seniors conferred on a community member.
Diana Perez created the slide show of class memories.