Congratulations to the Class of 2012! On Friday, June 8th and Saturday, June 9th, more than 1,542 students crossed stages throughout Iredell county to receive their high school diplomas. I was honored to participate in this proud moment in the lives of so many of our country's young people. Earlier this spring, more than 25 seniors earned diplomas from our two early colleges, CCTL and VPAC. In our school system, more than 81% of our seniors are going on to further their education, and have been accepted into colleges and universities throughout the country, taking with them more than $18.8 million in academic and athletic scholarships. The accomplishments of this graduating class could never have been realized without the support of parents, family, school staff, and the community. The impact of a child's parents and family go without saying. These relationships are the cornerstone of any successful school career. Likewise, good teachers make all the difference. I want to thank our teachers, support staff, and school administrators for the role they each played in the lives of our 1,542 graduates. I would also like to express my gratitude to our community. Many of you have supported our schools as partners, have provided internship and job opportunities for our students, and have served as volunteers and mentors to countless young people. Our County Commissioners and Board of Education also deserve our sincere thanks for their dedication to our students. Without their financial support, guidance, and leadership our schools would lack the funding for the enthusiastic personnel and innovative programs that keep kids interested in coming back to school every day. We're extremely proud of our 85% graduation rate (13th highest out of 115 systems in NC). The unique opportunities afforded to students in Iredell-Statesville Schools—I.B. schools, two early colleges, the career and technical school, the dual language immersion program, our technology magnet program, and our alternative programs—provided through the support of our community, make graduation day a reality for many students who otherwise might have disengaged themselves from school. It really does take a village to raise a child, and I am grateful to be a part of such an outstanding village of parents, staff members, and community members. Best wishes to the Class of 2012.