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A LaFayette High graduate shakes the hand of LaFayette Principal Don Turner Tuesday after receiving his dipolma Tuesday night at Bulldog Stadium in LaFayette. --Dustin Duncan

Class of 2019 graduates at LaFayette High School

LaFAYETTE — It was an emotional night for several LaFayette High School seniors who by the end of Tuesday night were high school graduates.

The LaFayette High School Class of 2019 had 51 students walk across the stage Tuesday to receive their diploma from Principal Don Turner, and many shed tears, expressed relief and celebrated their accomplishments all night.

Daylan Wright, who gave a class address Tuesday, said Turner was exceptional and credited him as a big part of her getting through high school. She graduated with honors and was given a Leadership Award Tuesday.

“Words can’t explain how much he has helped me through these school years to keep my head on straight,” she said, fighting back the tears. “Having a principal like coach Turner doesn’t happen too often, and I can’t thank him enough for being a shoulder to cry on away from home.

LaFayette High Valedictorian Mekevion Shealey told his fellow students to take a few seconds and celebrate themselves during his class address.

He started his speech by talking about the moments that high school provided for them. Through the pep rallies, sporting events and little moments in the hallways, he told his classmates to live in those moments and enjoy them — even the smallest ones.

“We did it,” he told the class. “We have come a long way from those days in elementary school.”

He said Tuesday starts the rest of their lives, whether it’s going to college to further their education or entering the workforce to start a career. However, he encouraged the LaFayette class of 2019 to continue to change the narrative about LaFayette High School.

He said his class is one of the reasons LaFayette High is off the failing schools list in Alabama and that his classmates secured more than $4 million in scholarships.

“LaFayette High School has beaten the odds,” Shealey said.

“They assumed most of us wouldn’t see this day and wouldn’t walk across this stage.”

Shealey said his own experiences have made him stronger even coming from humble beginnings.

“As a young black man, born to a teenage parent, raised in a single-parent household, in a rural community where violence is also prevalent — statistically speaking, I’m not supposed to be up here speaking,” he said. “But I beat the odds.”