Lee County High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian reflected on their four years at high school during graduation practice Wednesday morning.

It was the first time in more than a year the Class of 2021 had come together, with many greeting classmates and friends after months of silence. Although graduation was postponed to Saturday because of the risk of rain, students were looking forward to a traditional, in-person ceremony.

Valedictorian Kelsey Smith, 18

What was the best part of high school?

I would say playing sports, our wins. I played soccer (as a center-defensive midfielder), so beating Southern (Lee), playing all the teams.

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?

Always have your goal in mind and know that you’re the one who’s responsible for working toward that goal. If you really want to go to a school that’s far away or something like that, you have to use your own drive to get yourself there.

What was your biggest accomplishment during high school?

I restarted our Quiz Bowl during junior year and we were able to compete. I also started an organization called Students for Students. It was a group of seniors who were going to college, (and we) got together and gave other seniors tips. We had Mr. (Ethan) Ready, the college advisor, come in and talk and give more advice, especially with COVID-19, to help people apply for college if they might not know how.

How do you feel now that you’re graduating?

It feels really great. I think, after everything this year, it’s good we can have it outside and everyone can be together.

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m gonna go to Boston University in Massachusetts and major in economics and psychology. I might want to go to law school, so I thought those would be helpful.

Salutatorian Katherine Martin, 18

What was the best part of high school?

I loved football games. I cheered and I was on the dance team as well and going to state championship, that was really fun.

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?

I would say to get involved in as much as you can and really try to just be present in the moment. You only get to do high school once.

What was your biggest accomplishment during high school?

Being salutatorian, I’m very excited about that because I’ve worked really, really hard all years of school, but especially these last four years. I’m really proud of myself for achieving that.

How do you feel now that you’re graduating?

It’s very exciting, kind of nerve wracking. It’s a big change, but I’m really excited for this next part of my life.

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m going to East Carolina (University) to major in biology. My plan, as of right now, is to go to dental school after that.