Nearly 1,000 students received their high-school diplomas Saturday during graduation ceremonies for West Forsyth and Mount Tabor high schools.
The commencements were held at Truist Stadium where the Winston-Salem Dash, a minor-league baseball team, plays its home games.
A crowd of about 1,900 people attended the events — with about 1,000 people taking seats at the West Forsyth ceremony and about 900 people attending the Mount Tabor event.
Earlier on Saturday, Carver High School held its graduation at Truist Stadium. Glenn High School also held its graduation Saturday at Glenn High Stadium.
Principal Kevin Spainhour of West Forsyth told about 560 seniors in the class of 2021 that they achieved history by graduating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Everyone has been impressed by the unique challenges that you faced, but you persevered," Spainhour said. "Most importantly, that over these four years, you have friendships and relationships that will stand the test of time."
Deanna Kaplan, a member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education, congratulated about 340 West Forsyth graduates.
"You have the highest expectations for yourselves," Kaplan said. "We know that you are built for success."
Lillian Sutton, West Forsyth's student government association president, said she hoped that her classmates will not forget "the magic of today."
"In the face of tremendous challenges, we made it," Sutton said.
During the schools' commencements, students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas while their parents and other family members yelled their names and waved.
Senior Chasity Laney of Winston-Salem said she enjoyed her time at West Forsyth as she held her diploma.
"I thought it was really fun," Laney said.
During the events, students received the Winston-Salem Journal's valedictorian award. Colin Hunter Blevins received the honor for West Forsyth. Ehime Noah Abhulimen is the first African American student to receive the honor for Mount Tabor.
"We learned how to rise above the challenges of COVID-19," Abhulimen said. "The experience made us better people."
For example, Abhulimen pointed to the Mount Tabor football team winning the Class 3-AA championship in early May.
During the Mount Tabor ceremony, Amelia Sturkie, the school's student council president, said she was desperate to see her classmates as the pandemic isolated many students.
"We are here to celebrate every obstacle that was tackled," Sturkie said. "Let's continue making history."
Montgomery Moore, Mount Tabor's senior class president, praised the school's administrators and teachers in helping the students.
"Without it, these fine folks would not be prepared to face the world with all of its challenges," Moore said.
Principal Ed Weiss of Mount Tabor echoed Moore's comments.
"The teachers and coaches helped the students make it through the school year," Weiss said. "You are talented and have bright futures."
Senior Zen Dayan of Winston-Salem said he enjoyed his experience at Mount Tabor.
"It was a complicated year for sure," Dayan said. "The teachers were understanding."