Nearly 1,600 Columbia County public- and private-school students will receive diplomas in commencement exercises starting Friday.
Harlem High School leads off the graduation marches this year, staying at home for its ceremony at the school’s stadium.
It’s the first time in 30 years a Columbia County school has held its ceremony on its campus, and students are looking forward it, said Principal Dietmar Perez.
“There’s a lot of excitement, and I told the kids, ‘You ought to feel special and privileged’” at being able to graduate on campus, he said.
The ceremony, which will move inside the school gym if it rains, starts at 7 p.m., with 170 students expected to march.
“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed for good weather,” Perez said.
Ceremonies resume Saturday morning at James Brown Arena.
Greenbrier High leads off at 8:30 a.m., with 374 expected graduates. The ceremony will have a handful of empty seats because seniors on the baseball team will be in Marietta, Ga., to play Pope High School in the Class AAAAA state championship.
Grovetown High is next at 11 a.m., with its 285 graduates representing the first class to spend all four years of high school at the 4-year-old school.
Lakeside High follows with 363 graduates at 1:30 p.m., and Evans High ends the public school ceremonies at 4 p.m., with 330 expected to march.
Also Saturday, 60 seniors are expected to receive diplomas at Augusta Christian’s 4 p.m. ceremony at West Acres Baptist Church in Evans.
Six students received diplomas May 18 from Evans Christian Academy in Grovetown, while 48 graduates are expected to march at 3 p.m. June 1 when Augusta Prep holds its ceremony at the school’s Boardman Auditorium.