LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Walking across the stage is big for anyone, but especially when it has taken a lot of steps to get there.
Lufkin ISD Superintendent Roy Knight said, "You develop a real special bond with these kids to help them meet their needs and [in] many cases you're a surrogate parent and that makes this graduation even more special. There have been a lot of struggles with these kids that have come through and by golly they made it."
Their families fought back tears.
Charquita Ingram's Nephew graduated. She said, "This is a special day for our whole family. We are very excited."
Shenease Kenney said when her son graduated she was, "...overwhelmed with joy. I just felt like crying. I feel like crying right now."
This day, had been a long time coming.
"I'm the first grandson to ever graduate," said Christopher Ross.
"It made me feel like I'm a man," said Graduate Ocie Clark.
They may be grown up and out of school, but they're not finished giving advice to the underclassmen.
"Be smart, don't drop out, walk across that stage," Ross said.
"I want to say y'all do y'all's best and I love y'all and you'll be in my heart always," Clark said.
They won't ever forget what it took to get there.
"Don't ever give up, keep working hard," said LISD teacher Rachel Thurber.
Their hard work paid off and their excitement could not be stopped.
"They express their joy in so many different ways, what an exciting day for them and I'm always thrilled, excited and sometimes tickled at how they react to such a special moment," Knight said.
A moment they will not take for granted.
"I want to do something with my life instead of being on the streets and stuff," Clark said.
They will carry with them the Panther Pride.
"It's a great day to be a Lufkin Panther," Knight said.