For the final time in his career, Doug Moore stood on stage as the Columbus East High School graduates marched across.
The longtime director of guidance is retiring this year after 23 years with the district.
That is 23 classes of students he has watched walk across the stage in the Orange Pit — and this year, he went out with a bang.
He kept more students in school, resulting in this senior class being the largest with 360 graduates.
He also took a freshman class that the class salutatorian said had a record-breaking number of fights — and guided them to a better record: scholarships awarded.
They nearly doubled the record amount of scholarship money awarded, and Principal Mark Newell summed the Class of 2014 up in just three words: “They are excellent.”
Valedictorian Jacob Villiger and salutatorian Emma Alexander commented on what the class has accomplished together. They have endured the construction on the performing arts addition. They contributed a wall in the main entrance to recognize academic success as their senior gift. They supported each other when they lost classmate Mary Smith in 2012, whose sister accepted a degree in her memory Saturday.
But the speakers also noted graduation is not just about the class as a whole — it is about individual journeys, also.
“One of my favorite parts of students is getting to know the students and their stories,” Newell told the graduates. “We are here for you, to get to know you and share your relationships. Each and every one of you has a unique success story to be sitting here in front of me.”
Bethany Harper’s story includes overcoming nerves to meet new people and make new friends at East — a skill she hopes to bring with her to the University of Indianapolis in the fall.
“Academics is the easy part for me,” she said. “People are hard.”
For Jacent Doty, his journey to graduation included getting through his senior project. He organized a bike show for disabled veterans.
His biggest success so far?
“Actually graduating and being here today,” he said.