A little rain couldn’t halt the Franklin Community High School graduation Saturday, although it did add some pizazz to the choir’s rendition of “Ready,” by Joey Contreras.

Franklin schools Superintendent David Clendening told the umbrella-raising crowd of parents in the football field’s bleachers the rain paled in comparison to some of the challenges the about 350 seniors who crossed the stage faced.

The rainy ceremony was one last test of their mettle in high school and the Class of 2022 passed with flying Grizzly Cub colors.

The graduates made it through the challenges of a pandemic, which altered the structure and protocols of every year of their time at the school with the exception of the first. Even still, more than 100 students graduated with some form of academic honors, many of those with multiple recognitions.

One of those graduates, Hailey Novak, who was on the high school girl’s track team, graduated a semester early with an Indiana Academic Honors diploma, but took the time to come back to the high school to participate in the ceremony with her peers.

“I always stuck to myself in high school. I didn’t have many friends, and so track meant a lot to me,” Novak said. “Graduating early showed me how much I missed everybody as soon as I left. The last five months, I’ve gotten a real taste of a real workload. Working a full-time job and not having time for everyone gives you a glimpse of the future but I’m excited for new people and new opportunities and it opens your eyes to so much more.”

Kuryn Brunson helped lead the Franklin girls’ basketball team to the state finals this year, and said she’ll miss the community feeling of the school.

“We went to state this year and semi-state last year and built a community cheering us on and supporting us in general,” Brunson said. “(I’ll miss) the atmosphere. It’s a fairly small community and you grow with these people. For 12 years you watch them grow and succeed as well as yourself.”

Sydney Hammond, a member of the high school’s choir, has grown to love that community.

“I think the biggest thing I learned from high school is cherish the people around you. It’s about making new friends and enjoying trying new things,” Hammond said. “It’s the people, 100%, the teachers, educators, staff, friends. The people you get to grow up with makes it a lot more special.”

Novak hasn’t yet decided on a college yet, but plans to study physical therapy and eventually pursuing a doctorate degree. Brunson will go to Wabash Valley College, where she plans to study business, and Hammond will go to Indiana University to study law and public policy with a goal of becoming a criminal defense attorney, the graduates said.

“I feel like Franklin prepares you for it,” Hammond said. “There are so many opportunities to help you get into the job force, and it helps build a really good foundation for the future. I had time in my (school) day for credit to work, and I learned to be not only successful academically but successful in the workforce regardless of what I was doing.”