When this week is over, hundreds of graduates at Moore County’s public and private high schools will have turned their tassels to mark the end of the customary journey through 12th grade — and the beginning of disparate paths through university, the military, and the workforce.
The course requirements they fulfilled to reach that point, though, are just footnotes of a litany of accomplishments for the class of 2019. In total, academic, athletic, and local scholarships offered to local high school students amount to well over $25 million.
Members of Pinecrest’s class of 2019 will enroll in 78 colleges across the United States, and have been offered more than $14.5 million in scholarships to help them through. Larcie Britt, who is graduating at the top of Pinecrest’s 520-member senior class, will attend the University of North Carolina this fall. In competition for the National Merit Scholarship, Kathryn Streahle was named a semifinalist.
Union Pines High School’s 323 graduates were offered more than $8 million in scholarships. Its co-valedictorians, twin sisters Ellie and Emma Saunders, will attend Baylor University in Texas.
At North Moore High, 80 percent of the 156-student graduating class was accepted to college.The $3.2 million in scholarships offered to them include 49 students who have qualified for the Sandhills Promise at Sandhills Community College — which offers two years of free tuition to students who pass four community college courses while in high school.
North Moore’s class of 2019 valedictorian, Caley Williams, already earned her associate’s degree at Sandhills and will enroll at the University of North Carolina this fall with more than 60 college credits to her name.
All 41 of the The O’Neal School’s 2019 graduates have been accepted to four-year schools, and will enroll at 25 colleges and universities across the United States this fall with more than $2.7 million in scholarship offers.
O’Neal recognized two valedictorians and two salutatorians this year, so close were the margins between the grades of its top seniors. Valedictorians Maia Kantorowski and Blair Spencer will attend the University of Virginia and Duke University, respectively. Of the co-salutatorians, Jenna Burns will enroll at Boston University and Shamiso Kodzai will attend the University of North Carolina, where she was offered a place in the honors college.
Many graduates will leave high school and enter the Armed Forces, either through direct enlistment, by enrolling at one of the elite military academies, or accepting ROTC scholarships to prepare to commission as officers after college.
Pinecrest seniors Sophia Hirtle and Tristen Paller will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Allyson Harvel will attend Davidson College on an Air Force ROTC Scholarship and Olivia Longfellow will attend the University of California at Los Angeles on a Navy ROTC Scholarship. Ethan Ong will attend Duke University, Jeffrey Jensen will attend Virginia Tech, and Garrett Karres will attend Stetson University, all on Army ROTC scholarships.
From Union Pines, Caleb Kimpler has accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy. Kimpler was also appointed to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Michael Shook, Haley Kissell, Pieter Enkema, and Anthony Dugan will all attend
college on ROTC scholarships.
O’Neal graduate Bryce Samples will attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Prep School.
From North Moore, Levi Brady, Carlos Martinez Garcia, Tyron McRae, and Jybari Richardson have committed to military enlistment after graduating.
Over the last four years, Moore County’s graduating seniors have also racked up their share of athletic accolades — and some of them will reap the financial rewards as they further their education.
Union Pines senior Donte McKinney received a scholarship with 70 percent of tuition and fees to the University of Minnesota, where he’ll be on the men’s gymnastics team. Another half-dozen Union Pines students will attend college with partial athletic scholarships.
Nearly half of O’Neal’s graduating class were All Conference student-athletes at some point in their high school careers. Fulton Smith will play golf for Wake Forest University, Ralayah McRae will head to Bluefield College in Virginia to play basketball and Hannah Burns will be swimming for the University of Pittsburgh.
At North Moore, Cierra Daniel was second in the state for shot put.
From North Moore, Lily Carter signed with Coppin State University to play softball, Vince Larsen will play baseball at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Soccer players Alex Hernandez Escamilla signed with William Peace University and Moises Estrada signed with Montreat College. Camryn Lowe and Alexus McCrimmon will play volleyball at Sandhills Community College.
Whatever challenges they face in the future, members of the class of 2019 will be well-equipped to face them. Union Pines’ graduating class amassed 1,155 college credits through Sandhills Community College with 229 students having taken courses.
At North Moore, 79 seniors earned 371 credits through the community college. Francis Guillen-Diaz earned the “AP Scholar” distinction by earning passing scores on at least three Advanced Placement exams. Another 40 North Moore students earned credentials on the ACT WorkKeys career readiness assessment, and students earned 78 other credentials through career and technical education courses at North Moore.
The following graduation ceremonies have been held and scheduled:
*May 17: Sandhills Classical Christian School held its Commencement exercises at Brownson Memorial PresbyterianChurch.
*May 24: The O’Neal School celebrated its 43rd Commencement in the Grand Ballroom of the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst.
*June 7: North Moore High in Robbins will hold its graduation ceremony at 7 p.m.Admission is by ticket only.
*June 7: Union Pines High in Cameron will begin graduation at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by ticket only.
*June 8: Graduation at Pinecrest High in Southern Pines will be held at 8 a.m. in John W. Williams Stadium. Admission is by ticket only.