The 11th commencement ceremony for the Career Academy and Technical School honored 41 graduates, the largest class yet for this unique program that provides specially tailored high school experiences for students.

After members of the Class of 2024 entered the packed community meeting room, the CATS Color Guard performed the Presentation of the Colors and graduate Precious Evuka led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Graduate Jacob Rase welcomed parents, guests, and distinguished officials, including Iredell-Statesville Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff James, I-SS School Board Chairman Bill Howell and board member Anita Kurn.

“We all appreciate the positivity that you are sending our way,” Rase said. “This school provided each of us a very unique education tailored to fit our individual needs. We are exceptionally fortunate to have a discovered a space that has allowed us to challenge not only our academic abilities but time management and independent skills.”

Superintendent James told the graduates that they are way ahead of the curve with their educational experience and urged them to continue to be life-long learners, to stay informed and make their communities better.

James congratulated many who also earned national certifications, in addition to earning their diplomas, that will propel them onto their career paths.

Honor Speaker Carley Kiser told her fellow graduates to be kind to themselves as they enter the next phase of their lives, taking each small stepping stone of success. She urged them to grasp every opportunity without fear or discouragement.

Honor Speaker Stephanie Steelman, who enjoyed automotive tech, body repair, and welding classes, told graduates to take a moment to appreciate their accomplishments as each had overcome obstacles and challenges to arrive at this day.

Steelman enjoyed the iAcademy flexibility that allowed her time to also pursue a part-time job, CATS classes, and online classes. Independent iAcademy graduates are now ready to go out into the world full of confidence in their abilities as they pursue opportunities and face challenges, added Steelman.

Honor Speaker Josh “Romeo” Suarez thanked Principal Larry Rogers and the staff for preparing him for an automotive technology career. He said school never felt like a burden but was a place where he was eager to learn each morning.

Before the presentation of diplomas, Rogers thanked the parents for the fine students they entrusted to the school. He urged students to look back with pride on their hard work and determination to get this this point.

Rogers challenged them to have faith in their abilities as they find their individual ways in the world and to look for solutions to make the world a place of justice, mutual respect, and acceptance. He urged them to pursue a future of faith, hope, and growth.

Finally, he advised them to choose a career and activities that they love and enjoy. “I truly believe that your generation has the courage and strength to do what is right,” he said. “You just have to choose right over what’s popular.”

Counselor Malinda Sadowski recognized the honors students earned, including academic recognition, CTE Scholar, National Technical Honor Society, and Skills USA State Championship.

Kaylee Sherrill also honored the graduates by singing Carrie Underwood’s “Don’t Forget to Remember Me.”


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