a group of graduates throwing their caps in the air
They made it! The Class of 2024 earns a well-deserved celebration.

By Alex Rickert and Trinity Jacox

A class of 79 students who began their high school careers with the COVID-19 pandemic walked through the doors of the Marathon High School Performing Arts Center one final time on May 23 as the school celebrated its 2024 commencement.

Principal Christine Paul and Superintendent Theresa Axford handed out diplomas, hailing the accomplishments of a class that amassed nearly $1 million in scholarships while achieving the highest attendance record in the district.

“It is truly an honor to stand before a graduating class that has set the gold standard for attendance,” said Axford. “Your consistent presence, active involvement and genuine enthusiasm have not only enriched the school community but also set you apart as shining examples of dedication and perseverance.” 

Of the 79 graduates, 51 plan to attend college, with 26 set to enter the workforce or trade schools and two students joining the military.

Speeches by salutatorian Cami Wrinn and valedictorian Marquisha Abraham praised the perseverance of their classmates coupled with unwavering support from their families, friends and teachers, reminding them that “our best effort is what truly matters, even when things don’t go perfectly.”

“Together, we have navigated the halls of academia, tackling challenging assignments, and we

cheered each other on through victories big and small,” said Wrinn. “Let us also look ahead with excitement and anticipation for the adventures that await us beyond these walls.”

Abraham spoke of the dedication of her immigrant parents, adding that her valedictorian title was “as much (theirs) as it is mine.”

“For my sister and I, you faced countless challenges learning a new language, navigating an unfamiliar culture, and working tirelessly, often in jobs far below your qualifications, all to provide us the opportunities you never had,” she said. “Your sacrifices have been my foundation, and your strength, my inspiration. Honestly, if determination was an Olympic sport, my parents would have multiple medals by now.”

Photos by ROSS SMITH/IslandExposureCo. See more photos at keysweekly.com.

Alex Rickert
Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.