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Royal send-off for the class of 2008

Little did Nick Devito think he would be graduating in a wheelchair with his leg in a cast when he started out at Woodbury High School.

But on Sunday, June 8, that's just what happened as the senior, only three days out of hospital after a dirt biking crash which required him to undergo two surgeries, attended graduation at the Aldrich Arena in Maplewood, along with close to 600 of his fellow students in the class of 2008.

"I never thought he'd be graduating in a wheelchair, absolutely not," said his mom, Joan Devito.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard about the accident; I was in shock, and I thought they were telling me fibs.

"But he is here, and that's the most important thing."

The Garcia family had come to graduation a couple of years earlier than they were expecting, as their daughter Amber has only just finished her sophomore year.

They had come along to honor the graduation of Santiago Jaramillo, a Colombian exchange student who has spent the past few months with the family during his year at Woodbury High School.

"It's been the most wonderful experience for us," said Robin Garcia.

"Our daughter Amber is already planning to go there to visit next summer."

Inside the arena, the serious business of graduation got underway, with a sea of royal blue filling the rows.

"This class of 2008 is composed of excellent students who have done outstanding work while they have been at Woodbury High School," principal Linda Plante told the audience.

"Sixty-six students will be graduating with highest honors, signifying a cumulative grade point average of 3.9 or higher, with the highest average [of all schools] in the state."

Valedictorian Laura Harelstad told the class she had originally prepared a speech to inspire her fellow students, but after attending the senior award banquet recently, had found herself so inspired by tales of other students' achievements, she wanted to pay tribute to them.

"I say to the class of 2008: Congratulations, best of luck, and thank you, you guys are amazing," she added.

Don't miss our photo gallery of pictures taken at the graduation.