JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Science Hill High School just minted a fresh batch of graduates on Saturday, and many already have their sights set high.

571 seniors got the chance to turn their tassels in Freedom Hall after a rainy forecast moved all ceremonies inside. For the class of 2022, a change of venue was a small alteration in the face of the last two years.

“It definitely was not what I was expecting going in but it made me closer to the people in our community- from our entire class to even like just the theatre program or even biology class,” said Ansley Wilson, who’s headed to Ohio State in the fall. “Everybody became a lot closer, a lot stronger together. That was really fun.”

While the venue was packed out, one seat remained empty save for a cap, a gown and a rose. That one, school officials said, was reserved in memory of members of the cohort that passed away since their journeys began in Kindergarten.

Athletes weighed in on the opportunities gained and lost as upperclassmen: a lot of prospects didn’t get the chance to set themselves out on the field or court as teams waited for seasons to return.

“We missed out on basically two years of activities, sports and extracurriculars,” said Micah Richardson, ETSU hopeful. “It made it a little less enjoyable, but made classes easier too.”

All in all, the ceremony was marked with the excitement and nerves seen every year.

“It’s like a weight’s been lifted,” Wilson said. “I’m very excited for the adventure that’s going to be the rest of my life. I can’t wait to see my friends and family… it’s very freeing.”