HOSCHTON - Melinda Dolphyn knows Mill Creek's class of 2005 was special. Those students were the high school's inaugural graduates.
But members of the "cornerstone class" - this year's graduates - have left an indelible mark on the school, as they have shouldered the responsibility of setting the standard for each freshman class that follows, Dolphyn said Thursday evening during her salutatorian address.
"We, the class of 2008, were the first students to spend all four years at Mill Creek," she said. "We were integral to the school's growth."
About 740 students graduated this year from Mill Creek. Thursday evening's commencement was held in the high school's stadium, and the graduates' family and friends filled the stands.
Principal Jim Markham told the graduates he watched as the students turned a building into a school and Mill Creek became their home away from home.
"Tonight, your chapter in the Mill Creek book of life ends," Markham said. "You're beginning a new chapter in the novel each one of you will write. ... Resolve that your book will not be an unfinished work."
Class valedictorian Corbin Klett urged his classmates to capitalize on their success as they move on to college, the military or the work force.
"There's something great about '08," he said. "There is a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment, as we are graduating from one of the best high schools in the United States."
SideBar: Upcoming graduations
Peachtree Ridge High - 10 a.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center
South Gwinnett High - 2:30 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center
Duluth High - 7 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center
Hebron Christian Academy - 7 p.m., Student Activity Center
Killian Hill Christian School - 7 p.m., Killian Hill's gymnasium
Wesleyan School - 9 a.m., Wesleyan's Barbara Adler Plaza
Old Suwanee Christian School - 9:30 a.m., Old Suwanee's gym
Covenant Christian Academy - 10 a.m., Lighthouse World Outreach Center, Monroe
Meadowcreek High - 10 a.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center
Providence Christian Academy - 10 a.m., Mount Carmel Christian Church, Stone Mountain
Dacula High - 2:30 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center
North Gwinnett High - 7 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center
Apalachee High - 8 p.m., Apalachee High stadium
Winder-Barrow High - 8 p.m., Winder-Barrow High's stadium