ATLANTA — For students graduating high school this year, they won't have the chance to get together with all their classmates to celebrate.
Those at the top of the class won't get that incredible public honor either, but Stockbridge High School wanted to make sure their academic overachievers were acknowledged.
Madison Gordon didn't get to cross the stage as Valedictorian but the walk across her driveway was just as meaningful.
"I just started crying, I was so happy. It feels so good to know all the time really paid off in me really obtaining the title," she said.
She knew she was in the running, but she didn't know until this moment... when her principal, teachers, counselors, and family came to surprise her that she had earned the top spot.
She said it's been hard to be away from school, and her friends missing those last few weeks of togetherness.
"It was really sad. I was sad about prom, graduation. I was going to miss senior moments that should last with me forever. But this makes up a lot of it, it makes me proud and happy," she said.
Even if it wasn't the traditional pomp and circumstance, it's a memory she will cherish forever.
"I can't believe this is real. I have worked really hard for this moment, so it's great to see how everyone came to support me and surprise me like this. It really means a lot to me," she said.
To earn the top spot at Stockbridge High School, Madison had a 4.5 grade point average heading into graduation.
She'll head to Florida A&M University (FAMU) in the Fall with a full scholarship.