One by one in silence, the seniors at Bishop Seabury Academy shook the hands of teachers and faculty Friday, saying goodbye to a school they knew for years.
The ceremony, known at the school as "stepping up," sent the 21 seniors off into the world and gave underclassmen a chance to step into the ranks of their predecessors.
"All students literally step up into the next grade," Headmaster Chris Carter said of Friday's graduation ceremony. "It means a lot to the kids."
The Bishop Seabury Academy graduation ceremony strives for uniqueness among high school graduations, Carter said, giving juniors and seniors a time for tears and reflection while introducing seventh-graders - the school's youngest students - to a long-standing annual rite of passage.
The event, conducted at the private school's gymnasium, was also a celebration of a successful, relatively large senior class. The 21 students comprised what Carter called a typical senior class size after only one senior graduated in 2004.
"We'll be graduating those numbers from now on," Carter said.
Every senior listed at least one college or university he or she planned to attend, Carter said. In all, the 21 seniors listed about 65 colleges and universities, with a 70 percent acceptance rate as of Tuesday.
Before the "stepping up" ceremony, valedictorians Kaylin Carter and Nick Strole charged undergraduates with the task of taking the time to find balance in their lives between working hard at school and enjoying their other passions in life.
Other senior graduates were Lindsey Ahlen, Keegan Alford, Paul Bireta, Sung Byun, Kathy Chung, Adam Davis, Grayson Dillon, Laura Hoffmann, Kayla LeFever, Bethie Marshall, Jordan Noller, Blake Phipps, Katie Pottorff, Livia Shi, Regan Sisson, Ashley Tomassian, Gary Wang, Ashley Woolsey and Olivia Yoon.