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There was a bit of a last-minute scramble in the past few days before Lancaster High School graduation.
Until the final grades came in, Marcus Smyre was a clear front-runner for salutatorian; however, last week it was discovered Emily Fitzpatrick, who was ranked No. 3 in the previous grading period, had tied Smyre with a GPA of 4.895 for the No. 2 position.
“This is the first time in my years of being here that we’ve ever had something like this happen,” said LHS school guidance counselor Eric Byrd.
Along with valedictorian Gabe Glover, Smyre and Fitzpatrick both spoke during the graduation exercises at Lancaster Memorial Stadium.
“I’m not the salutatorian, I’m a salutatorian,” Fitzpatrick jokingly said. “I couldn’t stand to have Marcus stand up here by himself so I made all of the same grades.”
The 342 graduates, dressed in blue caps and gowns, anxiously waited on the field.
While some students sweated from jangled nerves, the 80 degree temperature and 70 percent humidity of the May evening, graduating senior Tony Ellis was not sweating over the fact that he was graduating in a year ending in the number 13.
“13 is actually my lucky number,” Ellis said. “I think it’s going to bring us good luck, and we’re going to be successful after high school.”
Senior class president Samaria Janae Witherspoon addressed the parents, friends and family the filled the stadium to near-capacity.
“Although this is the end of our high school careers, it’s the beginning of a whole new journey,” Witherspoon said.
And that journey looks like a hopeful one; 59 percent of the graduates had a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
“We expect great things from these students as they continue their development,” said LHS principal, Dr. Joe Keenan. “We are proud to have played a part and touch your lives.”
Following the final “go-ahead” from Keenan, hats were thrown into the air and the celebration began.
LHS soccer player Eduardo Chen was excited to start the next chapter of his life.
“It feels great to be done,” Chen said. “Now I’m just going to follow my dreams and whatever comes next.”
Contact reporter Laura Caskey at (803) 287-8675