This weekend, more than 1,500 Olentangy Local School District seniors will enter Ohio State University's Jerome Schottenstein Center as students and file out as graduates.

Seniors from Olentangy High School, Olentangy Liberty High School and Olentangy Orange High School will graduate at the center in three ceremonies between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, May 19, as a culmination of the year for the 2019 senior class.

Olentangy Berlin High School, which opened last year, does not have a senior class this year.

Olentangy High School will kick off the day at 10 a.m. with its class of 501, including valedictorians Karan Agrawal and Smera Palanivel.

Principal Robert Griffiths said he's always looking for excuses to "brag" about this senior class.

He said he was perhaps most proud of its response to the split that created Berlin, which left sports teams and other groups without a large chunk of students.

"Change isn't easy anyway, but they were able to hold the culture together," he said. "They showed determination and a never-give-up attitude."

Griffiths said he didn't have one particular favorite anecdote, but said his seniors of 2019 "just stepped it up."

"They did the right things; they had great character; they loved the culture and the things that were going on in the building," he said. "They embraced that, and I appreciate that."

According to Griffiths, 55 percent of seniors are graduating with honors diplomas; 43 percent are graduating with honors -- cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude; 37 percent received the President's Award for Educational Excellence; and 37 percent are Honor Society members.

"They're kids that will always be a Brave and will always be welcome back here," Griffiths said. "I can't wait to see the accomplishments that they get for themselves as they move on."

Accolades were just as common for the 564 students graduating at 1 p.m. May 19 from Olentangy Liberty High School, including valedictorian Sonam Rustagi.

Principal Michael Starner said his senior class had 28 National Merit semifinalists, including six who went on to become finalists.

"You can't find more than a handful of public or private schools across the state that have achieved that," he said.

Starner said six Liberty seniors earned perfect scores of 36 on their ACTs, and teams reached the final four in football, soccer and volleyball and won a state championship in baseball.

"The accolades speak for themselves; this is a very high-achieving bunch," Starner said. "In the classroom, national tests, within the arts and on the fields of competition -- I've never seen anything like it. They've just been amazing.

"I think the greatest thing it can be attributed to is just their togetherness as a group," he said. "They're a close-knit group of kids who are committed to each other and their community, and they've been lot of fun to work with."

Beyond achievements, Starner said the seniors' college-prep English projects -- known as action research projects -- also have demonstrated a wide range of positive qualities.

"There have been a lot of kids focused on worthwhile actions such as mental health and food waste," he said. "There have been an array of projects that have been set up to serve the school and Powell in a better way. It shows, to me, that these kids really get it."

Starner said the seniors have made him "very proud," and called them "an incredibly driven, high-achieving group."

"Most of all, they're just great people," he said. "They're fun; they're kind to one another; they've led our school in a positive manner. They're just a lot of fun to be around and they're just good, genuine people."

Finally, 498 Olentangy Orange High School students will graduate at 4 p.m. May 19, including valedictorians Samir Balraj and Olivia Mauger.

The class of 2019 "holds a special place" in the heart of Principal Trond Smith because it's the first class he's led through an entire school year.

He said he likes to "keep the focus on the class" rather than individuals, but raved about the Orange seniors.

"In a large high school, it is imperative that the senior class demonstrates positive leadership, shows unity and takes ownership of the building," he said. "This class did an amazing job of leading Orange High School, and I could not be more proud of their accomplishments academically, athletically, and in the arts."

In addition to "some pretty amazing individual accomplishments," Smith said members of the class of 2019 had nine National Merit Commended Scholars and three finalists.

"The class of 2019 answered the bell this year, and are a wonderful reflection of our community," he said.

For full graduation information, visit olentangy.k12.oh.us.

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