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Grovetown, Harlem grads make history

Emotion, appreciation mark ceremonies

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Two Columbia County high schools made history in graduation ceremonies Saturday -- one marking a first and the other a milestone among many.

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Harlem High graduate James Hunt shakes hands with school board member Mildred Blackburn. His great-grandmother was one of two people in the school's first formal graduation ceremony in 1910. 
  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Harlem High graduate James Hunt shakes hands with school board member Mildred Blackburn. His great-grandmother was one of two people in the school's first formal graduation ceremony in 1910.

Topic: Columbia County Schools
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Trinity Bass, Grovetown High's first valedictorian and its first diploma recipient, said the significance of the moment nearly overwhelmed her.

"I had so many emotions running through me that, even though I tried not to, I started crying during my speech," said the 18-year-old, who is headed to the University of Georgia in the fall. "We've all worked so hard to get this, and we all know how important it is, that I just couldn't help myself."

For Gabriel Warner, 18, the entire school year was special, not just graduation day.

"As seniors, we were the ones who got to make the traditions," said Warner, who will attend Southern Polytechnic and State University in Marietta, Ga., after the summer break. "We set the standard, and I think we did it right."

In all, nearly 1,500 seniors from Grovetown, Harlem, Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside high schools received diplomas in separate ceremonies at James Brown Arena.

Speeches delivered by school administrators and students focused mostly on the future. Harlem High's 143 graduates likely were the only ones looking back.

Though the school existed in the 1800s, it wasn't until June 1, 1910, that Harlem High conducted its first formal commencement with just two graduates: John Williamson and Nannie Violetta Whitaker.

A century later, Whitaker's great-grandson, James Hunt, received a diploma from her alma mater.

James, 17, said the significance of the moment wasn't lost on him.

"I do feel special to have that family background that not many, if any, other students have," said the future student of Young Harris College in north Georgia. "All of my family has graduated from Harlem. and we're very proud of that."

Madeline Price, another Harlem graduate, didn't know about the 100th anniversary until Saturday. She said learning of it made a momentous day even more special.

"I love being a part of history," said the 18-year-old, who plans to attend Asbury University in Kentucky. "In another 100 years, students will be remembering my class."

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csrareader
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csrareader 05/23/10 - 07:04 am
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Congratulations to all the

Congratulations to all the graduates, and good luck!

DowntownJaguar
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DowntownJaguar 05/23/10 - 05:00 pm
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So Columbia County schools

So Columbia County schools must come to Augusta to have graduation? You would think a county so "progressive" and full of wealth would be able to build a place large enough to hold these events. I suppose Augusta is not only just a good place to drive to work daily...

scoobynews
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scoobynews 05/23/10 - 07:58 pm
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I went to this yesterday and

I went to this yesterday and believe me downtown those of us that live in Columbia county are wondering the same thing. I personnally don't like going to downtown Augusta to attend a graduation and wouldn't have came anywhere near downtown if I could have had it my way last night.

scoobynews
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scoobynews 05/23/10 - 08:01 pm
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For future graduations -

For future graduations - Parents we know that you are proud of your offspring but so are the rest of the people there. The loud noise makers, cheers that lasted more than a minute, and seat bullies need to keep it outside. They read the names pretty fast and some kids names could barely be heard over your raunchy behavior.

DowntownJaguar
135
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DowntownJaguar 05/23/10 - 08:10 pm
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Maybe next year you can have

Maybe next year you can have it in downtown Appling next to Floyd's barbershop.

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