The largest class of graduates in the history of the Olentangy Local School District will cross the stage Sunday, May 20.

In total, 1,441 seniors are expected to graduate from the district's three high schools -- Olentangy, Liberty and Orange.

For the first time, all three high schools will hold commencement exercises on the same day, at the same location: the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus.

The move means there will be unlimited tickets for graduates' families, a change from previous years.

"We're excited. It's going to be an excellent venue -- more convenient," Orange Principal Trond Smith said.

Orange will say goodbye to about 480 graduates -- its largest class since the school opened in 2008.

The valedictorian is Miranda McKibben, Smith said.

Smith took over as principal in January after Kathy McFarland resigned to take a job with the Ohio School Boards Association. Smith's position became permanent last month.

The class of 2018 has "moved the needle," Smith said.

"From the time this class entered, they have set the standard -- academically, athletically, artistically. They've had three principals in four years and that has never changed the culture of the class at all," Smith said.

"We have the biggest number of kids I can remember, in a single class, entering the military. Some are getting credentialed through the career center, and most are going to college. They've had a plan going into graduation about what's going to come next."

At 532 students, Liberty again will graduate the most students among the three high schools. This year's class will be the single largest class in school history, Principal William Warfield said.

Valedictorians are Ruarai O'Tighearnaigh and Nolan Vondracek, Warfield said.

"This class has been through a lot, they've lost classmates, and the thing I think is so special is how they've stayed together," Warfield said.

Gavin Schlotterbeck and his passenger, Hunter McClelland, were killed in July when the sedan Schlotterbeck was driving struck an oncoming SUV on Africa Road.

Both 17-year-olds were rising seniors at Liberty.

Schlotterbeck and McClelland will be recognized during Liberty's graduation ceremony, and two chairs will be left empty, with white roses placed on them, Warfield said.

He said academically, the class is one of the highest-achieving he's seen.

"They will be successful in whatever they decide to do," Warfield said. "It sounds cliche, but they are a very well-rounded group that is talented in a variety of ways."

Olentangy has the smallest of the senior classes, but Principal Robert Griffiths said he expects the 429 grads to earn more than $10 million in total scholarship offers.

Hayden Toftner will serve as valedictorian, Griffiths said.

Griffiths took over as principal last year after serving as assistant principal at Liberty since 2015. Prior to that, he taught in three district middle schools.

He said he plans to attend ceremonies for both Olentangy and Liberty.

"We've had a lot of records broken: team records, individual records and the academics piece," Griffiths said.

"We're continuing to be great at everything that we do. I would have valued more time with them."

Graduation ceremonies will be held at the Schottenstein Center, 555 Borror Drive in Columbus. Orange will graduate first at 10 a.m.; Olentangy will follow at 1 p.m.; and Liberty will wrap up the day at 4 p.m.

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