WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — It’s yearbook time at South Walton High School. 269 seniors made the rounds to visit teachers on their last day.  

The students have collected $9,036,734 in college scholarships.

“I’ve never been part of a class that earned over $9 million worth of scholarships, and to tell you they’re great kids is an understatement,” said Principal of South Walton High School Dr. Alexis Tibbetts. 

Principal Tibbetts describes the 2023 class as resilient.  

“These kids came in with COVID and they left in March and didn’t come back to their sophomore year, so starting high school under COVID was not easy,” said Dr. Tibbetts. “The fact that they have had so many scholarships offers from so many colleges and universities and local scholarships has just been a source of great pride for us.” 

One graduating senior earned $300,000 in financial aid, sending her to a school up north.  

“I’m going to school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and I’m looking to major in physical therapy,” said South Walton High School Senior Jireh Paul.

The money for the students came from 70 different colleges including nine athletic scholarships, and multiple community awards. 

Principal Tibbetts said getting the kids ready for higher education and a successful future is a main priority.  

“We talked to them about where they want to go, what their career field might be, their test scores, how to get them up, different things they should write in their essays that make their essays stronger and more competitive for certain colleges and universities,” said Dr. Tibbetts. 

“I just want to thank every single English teacher that I’ve had throughout these four years because they’ve built up my essays from the bare minimum to putting exceeding detail and just like a way to articulate all my thoughts in the way that I wanted it to be in my papers,” said Paul. “I think that’s really helped me in all of my applications and I know it’s going to keep helping me in writing as a physical therapist.”

South Walton will host graduation on Saturday, May 20 on the high school football field. Commencement is scheduled for 7 p.m.