The Gifft Hill School Class of 2013 St. John's Gifft Hill school graduates 8

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ST. JOHN - In a breezy open-air ceremony on the school's Trayser Field, the eight graduates from Gifft Hill School took the stage amid a standing ovation and the sounds of the Love City Pan Dragons playing "Pomp and Circumstance" on Thursday evening.

Graduation is always a blend of anticipation and trepidation, leaving the comfortable present to face the unknown future. For salutatorian Nicole Morrisette, the milestone is bittersweet. She plans to attend the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, majoring in business management with a minor in philosophy.

"I'm definitely going to miss it here, but I'm looking forward to something new," Nicole said. "The biggest challenge for me will be coping with the amount of people and so many personalities. I've known some of these people for 18 years, so that will definitely be a challenge."

However, that challenge is also one of the things Nicole is most excited about.

"I look forward to opening new doors, learning new things and meeting new people," she said.

When asked what he looks forward to most about college, valedictorian Careem Albert promptly replied, "Dunkin' Donuts! I look forward to the food and all the amusement parks!"

On a more serious note, Careem said he looks forward to being on his own and conquering his own challenges. His biggest hurdle will be the feeling of "being a nobody, having to start all over," he said.

Careem will attend Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., and major in business administration.

Senior year brought fond memories for the students.

For Nicole, it meant making connections with teachers and students at Gifft Hill School.

For Careem, the most memorable moments in his senior year were giving speeches.

"This year I made the most speeches ever," he said. "This was the year I was a role model that was looked up to. I especially liked giving a speech to the eighth-graders on what to expect from high school."

To their younger classmates, Careem and Nicole both emphasized the need to avoid procrastination and stay focused.

"Watch out for the disease called senior-itis," Careem warned them. "Hard work pays off, so start out on the right foot."

Both speeches by the valedictorian and salutatorian were emotional, and Careem and Nicole thanked their parents, family, faculty and classmates.

There were few dry eyes after Careem's speech, which honored his late grandmother and late best friend, Nekwan Sprauve, who would have graduated with the Class of 2013.

Careem also had a personal message for each of his classmates.

"Class, if we continue to put our best foot forward, there is nothing in this world we cannot do," he said. "We have potential, we have courage and most of all, we have each other."

The future looks bright for these eager graduates.

At the close of her speech, Nicole said, "Now is the time of my life where I can make even more mistakes and learn new things. Get lost and find my way. And I couldn't be more excited!"Valedictorian: Careem Albert

Salutatorian: Nicole Morrisette

Number of graduates: 8

Number going to college: 8

Total amount of scholarships: $700,960

Colleges attending: Colorado Mountain College, Culinary Institute of Charlotte, Eckerd College, Flagler College, Iona College, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Universal Technical Institute.

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