December 2, 2022

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More than 2,200 high school seniors graduate in Gaston County

More than 2,000 high school seniors across Gaston County schools graduated Friday evening, capping their unprecedented high school careers.  

What began as an extension of spring break in March 2020 – the class of 2021 then juniors – evolved into a pandemic that spanned over two school years.

Students of Gaston County’s public schools wouldn’t return to their classrooms until Aug. 17, 2020, and the school experience was still far from what students had ever experienced previously.  

Just in time for graduation, Gov. Roy Cooper lifted the statewide mask mandate on May 14, 2021, allowing the county’s high schools to celebrate the class of 2021 without masks.  

In Gaston County Schools alone, 2,167 seniors graduated and took their first steps of the next chapter in their lives.  

Kaniya Xiomara Dillard wipes tears from her eyes after moving her tassel during the Warlick Academy graduation ceremony held Wednesday afternoon, May 26, 2021.
Joseph Finn gets a hug from his teacher, Victoria Santillana, during the Webb Street graduation ceremony held Wednesday morning, May 26, 2021.

Those other schools include:

  • Gaston Virtual Academy, a totally-online public school that launched in 2017. Just four seniors were part of the virtual school’s first graduating class.
  • 50 seniors of Gaston Christian School.  
  • 43 seniors at Gaston Day School
  • Piedmont Community Charter School will hold graduation June 3. 
Gaston County Virtual Academy graduate Autumn Gardner is all smiles as she proudly shows off her high school diploma during her graduation at Gastonia Conference Center on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

In total, more than 2,260 seniors graduated from Gaston County high schools.

Expanded coverage

For more on Gaston County graduations, go to GastonGazette.com. The Gazette will also publish expanded graduation stories in print starting Wednesday through mid June.  

Superintendent’s message

“Go forward, graduates. Keep learning. Do great things. Support your community. Love the people around you and always make us proud.

More:14 graduate from Webb Street School

More:Warlick Academy graduates 12

Ashbrook

Lee Dedmon, representing the Gaston County school board, presents Payton Danielle Love with a perfect attendance plaque. Payton did not miss a day of school in 13 years.

NUMBER OF GRADUATES: 313 

VALEDICTORIAN: Asma Patel

WHAT PATEL SAID: “Before I wrote my speech, I wanted a good quote to make my speech unique. So what did I do? I did not try to look for one on the Internet like a normal person would have. I direct messaged Marlon Humphrey, a professional football player, on Twitter for one,” Patel said.