“Being a Spartan is setting the bar – showing that we are capable of anything we put our minds to.” This message from senior class president Eryn Locks set the stage for the St. Charles High School Class of 2017 graduation, the first of seven Charles County Public Schools high school graduations.

A sea of 285 St. Charles graduates dressed in kelly green and navy blue filled the Charles County Convocation Center tonight, kicking off three days of commencement ceremonies planned for Charles County Public Schools seniors June 1-3.

Class valedictorian is Eden Lakner, who heads to the University of Maryland College Park in the fall to study biological sciences. During the ceremony, Lakner shared another powerful message with her peers: the ability of the senior class to transform into a family after coming from different high schools to a new school as sophomores.

“Just yesterday we were transferred to St. Charles to create this Spartan family of intelligent, talented, diligent, ambitious, passionate and sincere individuals that are going to go so far in life. It is this same ambition and determination that will allow every last one of us to succeed in college or with whatever life may bring,” she said.

The St. Charles Class of 2017 has big plans for its future, as graduating seniors received more than $9 million in scholarship offers.

St. Charles Class of 2017 salutatorian Jekko Syquia heads to The George Washington University in August to study fine arts and computer science. Syquia immigrated to the United States just four years ago and quickly climbed to a top academic spot in his class.

He said some of his most memorable experiences of high school are of how to learn from others. “There are always people willing to be by your side. You must be willing to accept your differences and show them what you can do with it. I’ve also had the chance to learn from others and take inspiration from them,” Syquia said.

St. Charles’ graduation was the first of seven high school ceremonies held over three days from June 1 to 3 at the Convocation Center. The St. Charles Class of 2017 earned $9,028,423 in scholarship offers, with additional offers to come. St. Charles graduates comprise the third largest high school graduating class this school year.