With a unique style of commencement ceremony, Horizon Community Learning Center in Ahwatukee graduated 92 seniors on Tuesday night.

With friends, family and guests packed into the pews of Sun Valley Church in Tempe, the Horizon Honors graduates sat in a music room, assembling their honors chords, hoods, and figuring out which side of the caps the tassels go on.

After a small pep talk by secondary principal Nancy Emmons, the graduates preceded out from behind the church stage into their seats, with much applause and cheers from their families and friends.

Before walking out, graduate Jessica Maroon said the reality of graduation hadn’t set in yet.

“I’m ready to graduate, but I don’t think I’m ready to leave all of my friends yet,” said Maroon, who has attended Horizon since kindergarten.

Among the 25 graduating seniors who have spent their entire public education at the Ahwatukee charter school, Levi Haros said his high school experience was full of opportunities.

“It was the best, that’s all I can say,” said Haros, who is headed to Arizona State University this fall to study international business.

Horizon’s senior class received a combined $5.2 million in scholarships this year, with 69 percent of graduates heading to a university in the fall. Twenty-eight percent of graduates are bound for community college or trade school with one percent headed for the military.

Once the ceremony was under way Tuesday, the graduates watched pre-recorded videos of their families, friends, coaches and teachers offering congratulatory words.

“We do something a little different here,” said Emmons during the ceremony. “If you’ve never been to a Horizon commencement, you’re in for a big surprise.”

With those video speeches, every single graduate of the night is addressed.

Along with performances by a small band, the school’s chorale and, of course, the diploma presentations, the senior class valedictorian offered a message and challenge to his peers about inspiration.

“Take a moment, a minute, a lifetime, to reflect on those who have inspired you,” said Maxwell Geidel. “Everyone can be inspired by other’s accomplishments. Thank you all for making me so proud of my senior class.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com. Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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