The Iredell-Statesville Schools Virtual Academy graduation ceremony held Thursday at Unity Center in Statesville was a rite of passage for 28 students — and a moment of pride for families and teachers.

Principal Kelly Hinson said she is proud of the Class of 2024.

“As you celebrate today with your family and friends, I ask that you take a moment to recognize the importance of your accomplishment,” she said.

Graduation speaker Yireth Guzman-Garcia told her classmates that she found out she was pregnant during her sophomore year. She thought she would never graduate high school.

“I felt devastated and wanted to give up on everything. But I didn’t because when I had my baby during my junior year, she taught me a lot about life. She motivated me to keep going forward, to never give up,” Guzman-Garcia said.

“I know that I’m going to be her role model in the future,” she added.

While it has not been easy being a teen mom, Guzman-Garcia proved to her daughter Natalia and herself that anything is possible if you work hard.

Speaker Anna Neal said that the Virtual Academy allowed her to work a full-time job and get caught up on her school work after being a year behind.

“Remember, that opportunities in life are not just going to land on your door, you have to go find them,” Neal said.

Speaker Jack Reap shared his struggles with his mental health and said that he experienced moments where he thought he would fail.

“Through it all, we found the strength to persevere, to push through adversity, and to emerge stronger on the other side,” he said.

Assistant Principal Yolanda Lindsay recognized dual enrollment students Kaylee Kenneway and Michael Rompf during the ceremony for making the dean’s list at Mitchell Community College.


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