COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Graduations season is underway for Columbus high schools, with the first ceremonies held Wednesday evening.

Columbus students in the Class of 2022 have had quite the high school experience, with part or all of their sophomore, junior, and senior years affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having to deal with the challenges of the pandemic was brought up by a few speakers, both students and faculty, during Wednesday’s ceremonies.

The graduates said getting through everything they have made graduating even more special.

“No one has ever faced the challenges you have faced in history,” said Beechcroft High School Principal Dr. Samuel Johnson Jr. “Each and every one of you deserves to enjoy your achievement.”

A passionate principal wishing the Beechcroft Class of 2022 all the best on their next journey, ending a high school career marked with learning remotely, learning remotely and in-person, and in-person five days a week, all spanning parts of their sophomore, junior, and senior years.

“Despite the circumstances, you persevered and you’re sitting in the Battelle ballroom today,” Johnson said. “Throughout your tenure at BHS, you have been through an ever-changing educational environment caused by a pandemic.”

Graduate Taurean Pender remembers when it all started well.

“March 12, 2020,” Pender said. “A day I’m pretty sure we can all tell as if it happened yesterday.”

It’s a day the Wilson family remembers, too, but Wednesday – graduation day – is a much better memory, wearing matching shirts and holding matching signs cheering on their daughter Zion as she gets her diploma.

“It was really hard COVID year but we pushed through and I graduated, so that’s all I care about right now,” Zion Wilson said. “I’m happy and I’m done.”

“It was kind of hard because who wants to do Zoom school?” said Zion’s mother Kesha Wilson. “Nobody wants to go to school on Zoom, but they did it and they made it. They made it to the end.”

The long hugs after the ceremony, holding onto this journey while getting ready for the next.

“It was really tough and a lot of the time, like I said, I doubted myself, but I knew I could push forward and I knew I could do it,” said graduate Kevin Figueroa.

Six graduation ceremonies were held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center Wednesday, with many more scheduled over the next few days.