‘The class who overcame’: Pender High holds socially distant graduation ceremony

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Despite a delay due to inclement weather, Pender County Schools held socially distant but traditional graduation ceremonies on Saturday.

To put it simply, the class of 2020 has been through a lot.

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“Throughout your high school careers, you’ve had to weather many storms. Including Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Florence and now COVID-19,” Pender High School Principal Caroline Godwin said.

After countless hours of online classes and with a lot of perseverance, the Pender High class of 2020 got to walk across the stage and turn their tassels.

“Really, it’s just a relief. We’ve been waiting all this time. We didn’t get our senior prom or nothing, so at least we get a graduation. A lot of kids did not and I feel very grateful,” Graduate Susan Buffaloe said.

Buffaloe felt the impacts of all the obstacles the past four years.

She says her home was destroyed during Hurricane Florence, sometimes kayaking to and from her front door.

Then spending a year commuting from Wilmington to Pender High.

Because I didn’t want to move schools because I love my family here,” Buffaloe said.

And working at the family business during the pandemic with an auto-immune disease.

She says it was difficult, but she’s a hardworker.

“I tried really hard and I succeeded, apparently!” Buffaloe said.

Despite all the adversity, Buffaloe graduated with honors from Pender High.

Principal Caroline Godwin says she could not be more proud of the class full of students with stories like Buffaloe’s.

“Instead of anxiously waiting around, you have been empowered through the challenges to triumph and continue striving for excellence,” Godwin said.

She says she looks forward to the success of the class.

“We’ll remember with great fondness the class of 2020. The class who overcame,” Godwin said.