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It was a milestone for students and school as the first graduating class of Langtree Charter Academy turned their tassels Saturday morning.

Known as the “legacy class,” the group of 13 students donned gold and blue gowns for the ceremony at Charles Mack Citizen Center. The Class of 2019’s legacy role proved poignant and thematic throughout the 40-minute event.


“You guys … have set the example,” said student Jessica Dharanendiran during her welcome address. “Because if there isn’t a first, nobody can come after.”

Senior Paulo Nogueira shared these sentiments as he took the stage and spoke to his fellow graduates, parents, friends and teachers.

“We were the top of the school, we set the gold standard and we set the example for the rest of the school.” He said. “Each of us has great potential … I truly believe the legacy class can leave a legacy in all that we do.”


Three years ago, when Langtree Charter Academy added ninth and 10th grades, this class began as 24 students. Now, boasting 13 graduates, Nogueria called them the “lucky 13 … the first legacy class of Langtree Charter – actually, the only legacy class.”

This baker’s dozen of students move forward from upper class studies in various paths, including college, work and the United States Army. In the fall, several students will continue their education locally at Mitchell Community College as others venture to UNC Charlotte, Caldwell Community College and Western Carolina University.

Echoing the legacies of others, Nogueira offered quotes to end his remarks. From Charlotte evangelist Billy Graham, “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”

Added Nogueira, “That is what we shall leave unto the world – legacies that matter.”

His fellow student speakers, Troy Dileo and Brittney Walden, coupled heartfelt gratitude with humor and memories.

“I made it,” said Dileo who led the morning’s senior remarks. “Somehow. I know, I’m shocked, too.”

Dileo and Walden both commented on their three years with Langtree Charter Academy, both joining the Waterlynn Ridge school in 2016. With tears in her eyes and an audible sniffle, Walden also shared deep appreciation to her parents and teachers for their support as she joins the military.


Master Principal Shane Lis then took the podium with laughter as he told attendees that he’s forgotten all of the speeches given on his day of graduation. “But I’ve never forgotten the friends that I sat with.”

Prior to the awarding of diplomas and tassel turn to its left, Lis offered advice and reiterated the students’ lasting Langtree legacy.

“I tell my students that we learn more from our failures than our successes,” he said. “As you look back on your failures, don’t let them be dark spots, but lessons learned.”

He added, “What is a legacy exactly? It’s something that gives a person comfort that once we’re gone, we won’t be erased by others.

“Legacy is about life and living.”

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