AIKEN -- Like all the graduates who came before them, the Aiken High class of 1999 put on their gowns and began a ritual as old as graduation itself -- trying to get those darn caps to stay on their heads.
Forty minutes before their last moment of high school, Tim Lowe couldn't quite get the mortarboard to stay on the head of his friend Casie Jones, even with bobby pins.
"See, you didn't do it right, you big nerd," Casie said as she got her friend April Herron to fix her hat. Casie's mortarboard was one of several April fixed before the ceremony started.
"It's kind of sad," April said, as she redid the bobby pins. "We'll be leaving all our friends."
Aiken High School graduated 260 students Friday, more than any other school in the County. The other schools graduated students as follows: South Aiken, 232; North Augusta, 259; Midland Valley, 212; Ridge Spring-Monetta, 72; Wagener-Salley, 69; Silver Bluff, 185.
A total of 1,289 graduated in Aiken County on Friday, but the total graduates this academic year will likely climb above 1,300 when summer school is completed, said Dr. Frank Roberson, associate school superintendent for instructional services.
This year's graduating class broke no records in size, but reflects a general trend of growth in graduating class size, he said.
Meanwhile, parents, friends and well-wishers packed the Aiken High gymnasium, some still arriving as the first slow bars of Pomp and Circumstance ushered in the graduates.
Carrie Hesse, the class valedictorian, thanked the teachers, friends and parents of the class, saying the class stood on the shoulders of giants.
"To all of those who willingly gave us your shoulders, thank you," she said.
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