Twenty-five graduates said goodbye to Verona High School last Friday, as another school year came to an end for the class of 2017.

A gym full of family members, friends and Verona faculty watched the procession as the band played "Pomp and Circumstance" before class president Jasmine Lechner (MSSU - Pre-law) welcomed everyone and performed the National Anthem.

Salutatorian and valedictorian addresses were given by Noel French (MSSU - music education) and Rhiannon Evans (Swarthmore College - math), respectively. Each expressed how proud they were of their classmates and offered inspiration and guidance for the next phase of the graduates' lives.

The commencement speaker for the night was long time coach, teacher and athletic director Brad Stewart. Stewart began his address by thanking everyone who had been instrumental in helping the graduates reach this achievement.

Ever the coach, Stewart likened the graduates to NFL draft picks. He said some were like first-round picks -- they knew where they were going and what they wanted to accomplish -- while others were mid-round or late-round picks -- they have just as much potential to be great, even though they might not yet know where they want to be. Regardless of their plans, Stewart advised, all the graduates should dedicate themselves to working hard to achieve their goals.

After students were recognized for receiving various scholarships, Verona principal Dr. Terry Winton and the school board handed out diplomas to each graduate, ushering them forward to the next step in their lives.