Clements High School Seniors Graduate, Thankful for the Ceremony

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - It's a milestone event in the life of every high school student, but it's one many at Clements High School thought may not happen after last month's severe weather.

The school held graduation Thursday.  The ceremony started at 4 p.m. at the Clements High School gym.

The smiling 73 students of the Clements High School class of 2014 filed into a classroom together for the last time. It was a room at the end of one hallway booming with drills and men in hard hats, wasting no time renovating for the 2015 school year.

It was a final reminder of the last month or so of classes for Clements High students. The seniors didn't even notice the construction. It was not the first day of renovating, but the first day of the rest of their lives.

Senior and number 3 in her class, Amber Alexander is going to Calhoun to study elementary education. She's been waiting for this day for a while.

"Getting to move on with this phase of my life, just getting to move on to get out into the real world and move on and start a new life," was Alexander's response to what graduation meant to her.

The tornadoes that moved through Limestone County on April 28, 2014 damaged the school.  Students were out of school for nearly two weeks.

Limestone County School Superintendent Tom Sisk assured everyone upon returning to class that graduation would happen on time.

Senior Class President Alec Van Wagen had confidence in the school board. He praises Superintendent Sisk for his swift actions that allowed his class  to graduate on time.

"We thought we'd be back in school, at least for graduation," Van Wagen said. "But we were a little bit concerned about finals and grades and how all of that was going to work."

Clements High and Blue Springs Elementary students were all exempt from standardized state testing for the remainder of the year after the April 28 tornadoes.

Several dozen students lost their homes in the tornadoes, but not their drive. During their time off, they offered their helping hands to the Limestone County community.

"Obviously we were worried about the community, but also because I didn't know what was going on with us. I didn't know if we'd be able to graduate on time, I didn't know if we would have to make up all the school days," said Amber Alexander. "I was really thankful for how they handled that and thankful for all the help the community got."

Danielle Scholl was also excited and thankful for her graduation day. She's hoping to study political science.

Despite the state test exemptions, Scholl was one of the 73 seniors holding their breath.

"As a class, we were definitely worried that we weren't going to graduate on time, but fortunately it all worked out," she said.

Van Wagen says a defining high school moment was his school coming together to help the storm victims in his area.

"We were out almost every day volunteering during when we would be in school. We were helping cleanup, and doing whatever we could so I'll definitely remember that," he says.

Despite the circumstances, these students raked in over a million dollars in scholarship money.