Three hundred twenty-one New Albany High School seniors are expected to graduate at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 31, at the Battelle Grand Ballroom at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus.
The class has 46 valedictorians who have earned at least a 4.0 GPA.
Three were chosen to speak during graduation: Daniel Machado will give the valedictorian address, Harrine Ramesh will thank the district's teachers and Madeline Rabe will thank parents for their support.
Machado, 18, said he wanted to give the address because he can offer a message a lot of students need to hear.
"Hopefully, it will inspire the students to make the most of the next four years and the rest of their lives," Machado said. "I will talk about memories and how what we've learned and experienced here will serve as a base to foster our potential."
Ramesh, 18, said she had good experiences with New Albany teachers, who she described as unwilling to give up on any student or any idea.
"Honestly, I've loved every minute, every class, every experience I've had at New Albany, thanks to the teachers," Ramesh said. "They're the most passionate, persistent, inspiring people I've ever had the privilege of learning from."
Ramesh said she's had several teachers in her life, having lived in India, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey and Delaware before landing in New Albany in 2008, half way through seventh grade.
"(New Albany teachers) don't make assumptions about your character based on the grade that's next to your name," Ramesh said. "They treat us like individuals and challenge us like individuals, too. They inspire us to keep dreaming."
Rabe, 18, agreed.
"Attending New Albany-Plain Local schools has truly been a blessing, but the best part is definitely the energy of the teachers," Rabe said. "All the teachers I encountered treated me as an equal and gave me the confidence to do my best. They were all so supportive and always welcomed me into their classrooms if I just needed someone to talk to. You can't find this at many public high schools. The teachers at New Albany truly care about their students wholeheartedly."
Teachers and administrators say they were impressed with the class of 2014.
"They've been an incredibly mature senior class and I've been impressed with their accomplishments in the classroom," said Principal Mark White.
College adviser Jeff Stahlman said the class was "adventurous," with many looking at colleges outside Ohio.
"I think we have 34 to 35 percent leaving Ohio to go to college," Stahlman said.
Stahlman said students were admitted to 249 different colleges, the most ever, and students chose to attend 108 different colleges, also a new school record.
He said students have earned $2,029,057 in usable scholarship funds for their first year at college.
The commencement speakers had different pieces of advice for their peers.
"If I had one piece of advice, it would be: study what you're passionate about," Ramesh said. "If you're not sure what that is, explore everything."
Ramesh said students think they have to take Advanced Placement classes to be a success, but one of her favorite classes was robotics.
Machado said students need to "put yourself out there and don't mind what other people think. Do what's best for you and what you are passionate about. Find a way to make yourself happy."
Though the students only have a few more days before starting their lives after high school, Rabe said, she hopes they remember what high school can mean to them.
"My best piece of advice for the underclassmen is to never take a moment for granted," Rabe said. "High school goes by so fast, so it is important to treat each situation with the utmost enthusiasm and passion."
Machado and Rabe said they plan to study business in the fall at the University of Michigan.
Ramesh said she plans to study biology and public health for a possible double major and pre-medical track at Johns Hopkins University.