When the 2013 graduating class of Grovetown High School walked across the stage at James Brown Arena on Saturday, the seniors marked a singular accomplishment.
Their school opened its doors in 2009, and 175 of the 267 graduates were charter members – the first ones to graduate after attending the school all four years.
“This is awesome knowing we’re the first four-year class,” graduate Hunter McBride said. “We’re the cornerstone of the great future I see for the school.”
Zack Salyers, the student council executive committee chairman, presented Principal Penny Jackson and outgoing Columbia County Superintendent Charles Nagle with a framed picture of the high school signed by all the graduates.
“Because of you, Grovetown High School is a reality and has alumni who are proud to be the first to call it our home,” Salyers said to Nagle. “Because of you, the bricks and mortar of the school building have transformed into a living and breathing vision of academic excellence,” he said to Jackson.
Jackson said the students accomplished a lot in a short period.
“They are the ones who have established our identity, and the traditions that have been created are because of this class,” she said.
For Greenbrier High School, which started Saturday’s ceremonies, eight of the 374 graduating seniors missed graduation to compete for the state baseball title in Fayetteville, Ga.
Part of Brianna Blair’s salutatory address hinted at their absence.
“Each of us has had our personal struggles and conflicts, but we came out victorious,” she said.
Lakeside’s ceremony took a humorous turn when the commencement speaker, teacher Craig Middleton, performed part of his speech by singing a musical montage.
“Life doesn’t get any better than it does in high school,” he told the 363 graduates.
The final public school ceremony of the day saw 330 Evans seniors receive their diplomas.
“It just doesn’t seem real,” graduate Camrie Hodges said. “It just seems like a dream.”
At West Acres Baptist Church, Augusta Christian Schools presented diplomas to 60 graduates.
The seniors continued a tradition of playing a prank on the chairman of the school’s board of directors. As most of them crossed the stage, they handed Chairman Ed Brown, the commencement speaker, a piece of a puzzle – leading to a puzzled look on Brown’s face as his jacket pocket began to fill.
His daughter, class treasurer Kendall Brown, had the class portrait made into a puzzle.