Panama City- Family and friends gathered at the Marina Civic Center on Thursday night to watch hundreds of local students take a major step in life. Haney Technical Center in Lynn Haven held graduation exercises for those receiving vocational certificates or high school diplomas.
The adult high school's valedictorian, Joshua Johnson, addressed his classmates.Haney's director,Michael Heptinstall, had a few encouraging words for the new graduates then handed out the diplomas.
A total of 324 students received high school diplomas, and another 165 received career or technical certificates.
Students, teachers, and administrators also took time Thursday night to honor a former graduate who died earlier this year. They observed a moment of silence during the graduation to remember Marine Corps Lance Corporal Joshua Wright.
Wright died on February 7th at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
He was just 19 years old. Wright graduated from Haney Technical Center in 2009. One of Wright's former teachers described him as a special person, who touched many lives.
"He was a dedicated student. And part of the class tonight could help realize how much that his past has impacted them and what it will do in the future as well," said Cindy Sloan.
School officials announced a 15-thousand dollar scholarship in his honor, established by his fiancé.