PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - After fighting to graduate at War Memorial Stadium, seniors at Pascagoula High School walked across the football field Thursday night in full pomp and circumstance, their heads held high with pride, their eyes looking forward to their futures.
The threat of rain almost forced the 271 graduating students and their loved ones inside the school's gym but the weather held off so they could receive their diplomas on the field like so many classes before them.
An air of accomplishment was felt by the graduating senior class, who have joined forces throughout the school year, beginning last summer, to petition for things they want or believe in.
"We truly are a family and when we come together, we can move mountains," said valedictorian Mary Boulton, referring to the senior vote to graduate on the football field instead of at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
Last year, while War Memorial Stadium was still under construction, graduation was held at the Coliseum. When school officials announced that they intended to keep the ceremony in Biloxi, students rallied, creating a petition and talking with the school board, as well as local media.
"Walking on this field has been a tradition for years. Our parents, grandparents, they've all walked this field," said Meha Patel, one of the senior class leaders who helped organize students multiple times over the last year.
School officials took note of the students' petition and concerns, allowing seniors at both Gautier High and Pascagoula High to vote on where they wanted to graduate. Gautier opted to keep their ceremonies at the Coliseum, while Pascagoula seniors voted to continue walking across the football field, just like so many of their parents have in years past.
"It is still our tradition," said Boulton. "We are one of the only schools that still walks on a field. And to me, that means a lot. That we can be different. That we stand out. That we are different as a class and as a school."
And for this class, tradition combined with a first -- being able to walk across the newly-renovated field.
"It makes us feel more special because from now on everyone will walk on the turf and we can say that we were the first ones," said Patel.
It's a legacy that this graduating class is leaving for the many graduating seniors who will follow in their footsteps.
Watch the Pascagoula High School graduation ceremony in full here: