CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill High School class of 2013 officially received their high school diplomas Saturday afternoon at the Dean Smith Center.

Here’s interim principal Melodie Parrish

“They’re just stellar, not only in academics, arts, athletics,” says Parrish, “but every one of our seniors completed their 25 hours compulsory service learning hours, which means they volunteered in the community. They are willing to accept challenges and put in the work to see it completed.”

Although students have finished their careers at Chapel Hill High School, many will remain in the area to attend UNC in the fall, including valedictorians Norman Archer, Claire Nielsen, Christopher Reeder, Chiara Salemi, and Jonathan Siekierski.

In the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School system, instead of merely honoring the student with the highest GPA, all students who receive all A’s are granted valedictorian status.

Archer and Reeder also received the prestigious Morehead-Cain scholarship. The scholarship is a fully-funded, merit-based program for four academic years in addition to four summer enrichment trips—the first of its kind in the United States.

Reeder says that he had always wanted to make a speech in the Dean Dome, albeit in a slightly different context.

“It was a typical dream of any typical Tar Heel fanatic,” says Reeder. “I’d be a 6’6” shooting guard announcing my decision to enter the NBA Draft after four championship-filled years at UNC.”

Valedictorians Arun Ganesh and Zachary Visco will remain in the Triangle to attend Duke University, a point Visco made as he joins the other half of the Tobacco Road rivalry.

“It’s somewhat ironic and sacrilegious that a future Duke student–a future Cameron Crazy—is standing here addressing you from the Dean Dome, the pinnacle of UNC’s campus,” says Visco. “But we’ll have to make due.”

Michelle Jin rounded out the eight CHHS valedictorians and will attend Penn in the fall.

Despite the diversity of college choices of the entire class, Ganesh says he confident this class will produce something special.

“I do not know what my future, or the future of anyone else here, has in store,” says Ganesh. “But based on the four years I have spent getting to know every one and seeing and being apart of what they have done, I know that the people in this room are going to change the world.”

In all, 321 students received their diplomas and turned their tassel to begin the next step in their life, wherever or whatever that may be.