MOUNT VERNON — They filed into the Knox County Career Center Senior Awards program in a rainbow of colors — blue, red, green, black and white — as the students wore the graduation robes of their home schools.
This was not a graduation ceremony, but the robes, even without the mortarboards, seemed to symbolize that, for these students, it was as much a graduation as the ceremony their home school will hold.
It was the first time the students had worn the robes for this event. Board President Richard McLarnan said he thought the practice will catch on.
“They like it here (meaning the administration) and the students like it,” he said. “It shows where they are from.”
Another new facet of the event was provided by the Air Force JROTC Cadet Corps, who formed an archway of swords for the graduates to pass under on their way to their seats when they entered the R.R. Hodges Auditorium at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
The top award of the evening, Student of the Year, went to Kayla Page, a Sports Medicine and Exercise Science student from East Knox High School. The award came with a $500 scholarship from the Knox County Career Center Staff Association.
Scholarships were a big part of the evening, as Director Robert Kirk noted that the members of this class had received $625,000 in scholarship money.
The presenting of scholarships was a major part of the evening and produced the loudest applause of the night, when Amy Hunter and Randy Hite were introduced to receive the Passports of their son, Caleb Hite, and present a scholarship in his honor. Caleb was killed in an automobile accident.
As the presentation was completed, a number of students, apparently friends of Caleb’s, went up to the stage to greet and hug Caleb’s parents.
The presenting of the Passports concluded the evening. As if receiving a diploma, the students of each program were presented with their Passports by the instructor of that program.
School Counselor Kathie Brown explained that the Passports contain the certificate of completion for their program and any additional awards and certifications they earned at the school.
“They can take that to potential employers and show their accomplishments,” Brown said.
The school also presented a Distinguished Alumnus Award, which this year went to Loretta Lower, a 1975 graduate of the career center who is now the school’s assistant treasurer.