RICHLAND -- Libby Volk said that for the bulk of her high school career, the years dragged on and it seemed they would never end.
"That is until I woke up yesterday, realized I was graduating and I hadn't written my speech yet," said the 18-year-old co-valedictorian to some laughter.
Twelve students received their diplomas Friday from Three Rivers Homelink, a special program for home-schooled students in the Richland School District, at a ceremony in Southside Church in Richland.
It's the largest class in the program's four-year history and had five seniors who were with it since their freshman year.
School counselor Johanna Davis, who fought back tears, said she was sad to see so many students she had memories with departing but said she appreciated them and their families sticking with Three Rivers Homelink when they could have chosen from many other school options.
Principal Eric Sobotta spoke of the transition the program has gone through, from starting with 35 students in 2008 to having about 400 today.
"The truth is, they've each taken a unique journey to get here," he said of the graduates.
Staff and students expressed thanks to the school's parents, who were crucial to the school's success. It was that combination of dedicated teachers and supportive families that have prepared this year's class to go out into the world.
"Graduates, we're not powerless, we're powerful," said co-valedictorian Madison Belmont. "The only question is, will we use it?"
Other graduates included Emily L. Byers, Brendon Duty, Alexis Earl-Osgood, Kayla Garza, Vienna Gervais, Aaron Robert Johnson, Ben Thomas Michener, Rachael A. L. Shulz, Olivia A. Stuart and Taylor Mae Webb.