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Graduates celebrate turning their tassels after unprecedented school year


By Emerson Jackson


While battling the stress of a pandemic, the chaos of navigating ever-changing online learning formats and the normal responsibilities associated with planning for college, the seniors of Westover High School barely knew where their classes would be held from one day to the next, much less if they would have a graduation or not. However, Monday morning at the Crown Coliseum, 200 students celebrated their own hard work and resilience by turning their tassels, officially ending their high school careers. Cumberland County Schools has some 3,500 students set to graduate this year.

“Today is what we call our education Super Bowl,” said Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. “We are so proud of all our young people. They are full of resiliency and have demonstrated what resiliency is all about.”

Connelly also said that he feels like the administration learned a lot from the pandemic and that he feels this has been an eye-opening experience as far as how education can be advanced.

 “It has been a challenge for some and a success for some,” he said. “What we thought was good was really not that good. We imagine education to not go back to normal.”

            Student-athlete D’Marco Dunn, who has signed to play basketball for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that going to school during a pandemic was a completely different environment and that just paying attention in that kind of situation was extremely difficult.

 “You can’t really see the teacher or get their attention,” Dunn said. Dunn also said that juggling school and basketball was stressful, without a consistent schedule amidst all the madness. 

            Maricela Jones-Gonzales said that she was immensely grateful for this opportunity, considering  last year’s graduates did not have the same luck. “This county has given us the opportunity to walk across the stage and graduate as a group,” she said. “And I really appreciate that.”