CHARLOTTE ­– The "legacy class" of the Community School of Davidson describes themselves as diverse, determined and willing to make their own path. As the first senior class for the charter school, they’ve worked to set the course for the school.

At Belk Theater on June 5, 111 graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas culminating the first 13 years.

“The class got to experience everything for the first time,” Board of Directors Chair Jim Beam said. “They could enjoy new things and try out things, and make changes later. We could see them grow every year. It’s a slightly emotional, but a proud day at school for me as a parent (of graduate Katelynn) and a board member.”

Founder and Executive Director Joy Warner, who won a bet that she wouldn’t cry during her speech, tossed the usual commencement messages to share the stories of the students who have shaped the school.

She recalls Chase Loomer as a kindergartener constantly tapping beats and making music. At graduation, he accompanied the chorus on the piano as they sang “The Best Days of My Life.” He will attend Eastman School of Music this fall.

Then there were students who weren’t ready to leave their parents to go to elementary school but have since grown up to be leaders.

Warner said the school has gone through the good and the bad – like when the boys’ basketball team beat SouthLake Christian, considering when the teams first started, the girls team was losing to them so badly the referee taught one of the players how to dribble and the whole court cheered when they got their first basket.

She won’t be able to look at the George Foreman grill John “Holden” Bailey presented her without thinking about when he was caught grilling chicken in the hallway.

The stories continued as teachers read a paragraph about each student as they crossed the stage.

“The bulk will be going on to college,” Warner said. “It’s more important that every single one of the 111 has a plan that’s right for them.”

The school started as 18 kindergarteners in a trailer as the Children's Community School. A grade was added each year and they now have 1,200 students.

Student speaker Aurora Taylor challenged her peers to continue creating traditions, though next year for the first time they will be at places that have traditions of their own.

“We had new everything and we had a lot of fun and freedom to choose and help shape what we do,” said Scott Krabath of the “guinea pig class.”

Brooks Clark, Jake Bernardini and Katelynn Beam said their favorite aspects were seeing new students become part of the school as well as leadership, athletics and service opportunities.

Teachers Andie Snyder and Amy Tomalis agreed that the senior class embraced all of the newcomers.

As their kindergarten teacher turned high school math teacher, Snyder said it’s bittersweet to see them leave.

“One of my favorite thing is these kids are like one big family,” she said.  

Added Tomalis, “I can’t wait to see what they do, who they become and the difference they’ll make.”