R.A. Long High School Graduation 2019

R.A. Long seniors clad in graduation decorations make their way to the stage during the 2019 commencement ceremony at Longview Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

R.A. Long’s class of 2019 set a high bar: Graduates earned nearly $3 million in scholarships, performed almost 11,000 hours of community service and broke graduation records.

“Last year, the graduation rate was 96.7%. This year is over 97%. It’s the highest rate in the history of the school,” Principal Rich Reeves said during Saturday’s graduation ceremonies. “This is very exciting.”

Graduates also collectively earned $400,000 more in scholarships than last year’s class.

Commencement speaker and graduate Evan White highlighted the number of community service hours he and his peers competed during their high school tenure.

“It didn’t take us long us long to figure out how to navigate the halls,” White said. “We had over 10,800 hours of community service.”

Students became visibly emotional when graduate Ian Mendenhall spoke about their futures.

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“We made it. Life’s about to get a whole lot different,” Mendenhall said.

Reeves gave the students a list of “the top 19 things the class of ’19 might want to know.”

The list ranged from humorous advice such as “The cheese on the cheese pizza in the cafeteria was not real and never will be” and “There really is a ghost of a young girl in the bell tower,” to serious wisdom such as “Be great at being who you are.”

Speakers frequently emphasized how much this class achieved, in quantity and quality. However, Reeves concluded the night not by talking about numbers, but about how each student can change their story.

“You can be an active hero in your own life,” Reeves said.

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