COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With summer approaching, high school graduations will soon be in full swing.

On Tuesday, Columbus City Schools spent the morning recognizing one group of soon-to-be-graduates preparing for their next step.

“It’s a little bit melancholic. A little bit scary, but very exciting,” describes Mariama Sidibe, a senior at Columbus Alternative High School.

Even with loads of syrup, Tuesday morning’s pancakes were bittersweet for this group of seniors.

“I’m really excited to start the next chapter of my life, and then I’m also going to miss all the memories I’ve made here,” adds Britain Wilson about the emotions of the day.

With more than 180 students set to graduate, faculty and staff celebrated the school’s seniors with College Career Signing Day on Tuesday.

The event marks the end of a high school experience that was unlike anything the seniors could have predicted.

“It was definitely a hard shift for social people like me, dealing with the isolation of being at home and trying to find as many connections online with other people,” Sidibe recalls.

Sidibe and Wilson are two of the standout seniors recognized on Tuesday.

Sidibe will attend Ohio Wesleyan University on a full-ride scholarship, hoping to pursue a career in public health.

“My school has prepared me for the next chapter, so I’m ready,” says Sidibe. While Wilson is headed to Ohio State as part of their honors and scholars’ program.

“We’ll be exploring things like human rights, global health, climate change and things like that,” Wilson details.

For teachers and staff, this group of seniors is special because of all the challenges they overcame throughout their high school tenure.

“They have persevered. These kids have maintained their GPA’s, they’ve maintained their educations, they’ve been selected to some really amazing colleges,” boasts Assistant Principal Aaron Moore. “They’ve thrived despite everything that’s happened.”

After a pancake breakfast provided by the Parent-Teacher Association, underclassman joined faculty and staff in applauding the graduating seniors’ success as they made their way to the Linden Community Center for a recognition ceremony.

For Wilson, it’s part of the sense of community and solidarity that will desperately be missed.

“Being able to connect with other students from all different grades — not only seniors and my friends — but other people I don’t know and learning about them, and their experiences and their stories has been really important for me,” Wilson smiles.

As they prepare to blaze trails new trails, the class of 2022 has left a lasting legacy.

“We definitely made sure our voices were heard in every aspect,” Sidibe describes. “Making sure that student input was at the forefront of things that happened within the school.”

A permanent mark for future students and staff.

“I’ll miss each one of them,” admits Moore. “The smiles on their faces, the laughter, the bonding together, they’ve really held it together.”

The school says Tuesday’s event wasn’t just to recognize those planning to attend college, but all seniors — including those pursuing careers in the workforce and other opportunities.

The seniors are scheduled to graduate on June 3.