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Cumberland graduations begin with 3 high schools handing out diplomas

Education journey builds ‘beauty and resilience,’ student leader says


High school graduation ceremonies began Thursday with nearly 200 students from Cumberland International Early College High School, Cross Creek Early College High School, and Cumberland Polytechnic High School receiving their diplomas.

The ceremonies were held at the Crown Coliseum.

Cumberland International Early College High School

Students at Cumberland International earned 3,584 credit hours, averaging 56 credit hours per student, according to a school system news release. They also have a total of more than $4.2 million in scholarship offers.

Valedictorian Sandy Lin said she and her fellow students have grown through their educational journey.

“Reflecting on our high school journey, I am reminded of the beauty and resilience of flowers,” Lin said. “Like seeds, we have been planted in the same soil, and with the guidance of our teachers, mentors, and peers, we have grown to be unique and vibrant flowers.”

Meet Cumberland International's Standout Senior. 

See a photo gallery from Cumberland International.

Graduate Elijah Wittmeyer-Balthazar has been shadowing a professor at Fayetteville State University in a genetics study. The research is focused on using soybeans to identify genes that control production of the protein Lunasin, which has been shown to regulate cell growth and division and is being used as a cancer prevention and treatment option, according to the news release. 

Cross Creek Early College High School

Principal Christian Qually of Cross Creek Early College High School urged graduates to not compromise on their dreams.

“Many of you will be going off to college; some of you will be entering the workforce,” Qually said. “Whatever you decide to do, enjoy every minute of it. Use every moment you have to be the best version of yourself and never settle for anything less. Be proud of yourself and who you have grown to be.”

Meet Cross Creek's Standout Seniors.

See a photo gallery from Cross Creek Early College.

Graduates Aniya Damron received the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation “People Helping People” Scholarship for $10,000. Guillermo Samuel Aceves II was awarded the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Scholarship. Nathanael Heath is a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship recipient and was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Amherst College, according to a news release.

Cumberland Polytechnic High School

Principal Chad Barbour told graduates of Cumberland Polytechnic High School that graduation is “the beginning of the rest of your life.”

“I challenge you to take a moment to think back on your years as a student at CPHS,” Barbour said. “You began high school as a freshman in 2019 and a little over halfway through the school year, our world forever changed.  You survived and thrived during a period of uncertainty, fear, and, worst of all, isolation. In the future when things get tough, look back on what you have had to overcome to stand before family and friends as a high school and college graduate.”

Meet Cumberland Polytecnhic High School's Standout Senior.

See a photo gallery of CPHS. 

Cumberland Polytechnic students received $1 million in scholarships and earned 48 degrees and certificates, the most in the school’s history, the news release said.

Keilea Yannotti, the National Honor Society president and student government vice president, graduated with a 4.2903 GPA and has more than 50 hours of community service. Keilea plans to attend N.C. State University next year, the news release said.

Caden Ketchman was accepted at Fordham University, UNC-Chapel Hill, Vassar College, Wesleyan University, Swarthmore College, Williams College and New York University, the news release said. He will attend Columbia University in the fall.

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Cumberland County, high school, graduation, education