By Matt Caulder
Published in News on June 7, 2014 10:34 PM
An Eastern Wayne High School graduate dances his way across the stage Saturday morning after receiving his diploma.
To graduate from Eastern Wayne High School was all Hannah Faith Gaines wanted after completing her junior year at Broughton High School in Raleigh.
Her family moved to Raleigh after her sophomore year -- pulling her away from her friends and classmates.
"It didn't work. The school was very cliquish and it was really hard," she said. "Coming back, everyone was excited."
It was decided that Hannah would stay with former neighbors, Troy and Joyce Pate, during the week and she would stay in Raleigh with her family on weekends.
"It was hard, but it was the right thing to do," her father, Bill, said. "When she knew she was going back her whole demeanor changed."
For Gaines, the hardest part was having his family separated during the week.
"Not living as a family was hard," he said. "She would come home Friday night and leave for school Monday morning."
For Cristela Rochell and her two sisters, Saturday was an emotion-filled ride from elation at her graduation to tears over her leaving for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall.
Cristela's youngest sister, Catherine Young, 9, was the saddest that she will be leaving for school.
"When I go, you can have my room," Cristela said.
Her sister, Tammi, who is her legal guardian while her father works overseas, also teaches at Eastern Wayne as a substitute -- making it an emotional day for her as well for multiple reasons.
"I taught many of these kids coming through today," she said. "I didn't want to mess up my make-up crying. I wore big sunglasses today because I knew."
Valedictorian Lindsay Player said that she would avoid the common clichés in her speech, but did want to congratulate her fellow graduates and thank their teachers.
"We were able to come together during joyous and tough times and unite as a class and as a school," she said.
Looking back on her time at Eastern Wayne, she said there is no doubt that the graduates should find the best for themselves in the future.
"We have learned to only strive for our best in the future -- to live our lives the way that they are meant to be lived, seeking unity and happiness," she said. "Our time here has come to an end and we could not be more prepared to face the future and relish in the success that will be the result of our own hard work."
Salutatorian Austin Jeffreys wondered how she was supposed to wrap up her entire high school experience in the time allotted to her.
"How am I supposed to talk about the 345,600 minutes we have spent in the last four years at Eastern Wayne High School in only three minutes?" she asked. "An anonymous author said, 'Don't count every hour in the day, but make every hour in the day count.'"