HANCOCK COUNTY — Like so many parents, Bobby Jack was proud.
He sat in the crowded gymnasium, waiting for his son to take the stage. He couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed, thinking back on the past few years.
His son, Dylan Jack, one of more than 90 students to graduate from Eastern Hancock High School last weekend, lost his mother a few years ago. His graduation was a moment she would have loved to have seen.
Saturday morning, his father was proud enough for both of them.
Story continues below gallery
Seniors from two local high schools turned their tassels toward the future Saturday, as hundreds of students graduated and started new chapters of their lives.
Commencement ceremonies were hosted at both Greenfield-Central High School and Eastern Hancock High School, and family and friends from across the county, central Indiana and beyond made their way to the area to watch the proceedings.
“I’m just so proud of him,” Jack said of his son. “I think everyone in here is proud of someone today.”
Teary-eyed family members took videos and snapped photos as the students made their way into packed gymnasiums, and cheers from the crowd were swift and loud when familiar names were called to collect their diplomas.
For some, family members came from hundreds and even thousands of miles away, a sacrifice that wasn’t overlooked by the honorees.
Greenfield-Central senior Kristen Baker was getting ready to walk into the gym when she remembered family members from Tennessee had made their way to her high school to see her graduate. She said it made her feel wonderful to know that so many would come from so far away to watch her during such an important moment.
“It makes me feel really good that they want to be here to support me,” Baker said. “It makes me feel special.”
Baker and 333 other seniors from Greenfield-Central High School earned their diplomas this weekend. A total of 94 students graduated from Eastern Hancock.
Eastern senior Nakayla Shelton was adjusting her royal blue cap when she stopped to think about how far some of her family members had come to see her walk across that stage. One of those trips even required a passport.
“My sister flew all the way from France to be here,” said the senior, who plans to study nursing at Indiana University East in the fall. “It was a total surprise that she came, but having her here makes me feel so accomplished.”
Her father flew in from South Carolina to watch her graduate.
Family members made their way to town over the previous few days, Shelton said, and a few were emotional about the upcoming changes in her life.
“The last few days have been filled with happy tears,” said Shelton, the youngest of four girls in her family to graduate from Eastern Hancock. “But I’ve spent the last 13 years of my life here, and I’m ready for a change.”