Families, friends and well wishers filled the Boardman Athletic Center on the school’s Martinez campus with cameras ready as they waited to catch the first glimpse of their loved ones.
Valedictorian Nickolas Friedman addressed the audience about the importance of the number 14, as it relates to his class year.
Many of the graduates had attended the Augusta Prep since preschool, accruing 14 years of education by their graduation. Abraham Lincoln’s name is also 14 letters long, Friedman said, and he modeled the rest of his speech after Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
“We will soon meet on the great battlefield of the real world,” he said. “We’ve come to enter a portion of this field as just the beginning of a life that we will have the total ability to shape ourselves. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”
Guest speaker Bo Mitchell, a senior adviser for baseball’s Colorado Rockies and the chaplain for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, commended the graduates for the collegiality they displayed in his two days in the area.
“If you don’t know this already, what’s happening here at Augusta Prep is not happening at many other places in the world,” he said. “You’re all leaders. It’s already been determined.”
Stephen Schools, the head of the Upper School at Augusta Prep, thanked the graduates and offered advice as the students prepare to head off to college: Go to class.
“Go forth and share your gifts with the people on the next step of your journey, and be the best you that you can possibly be,” he said. “We will miss you. We love you.”
Though the graduates are ready to move on, they haven’t reached their potential just yet, said Steven Vinson, the vice president of the student council.
“Keep an eye on us simply because you’re going to want to see the things that we will accomplish,” he said.