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Three local high schools hold graduation Saturday

Largest class ever graduates Statesboro High

    The largest class to ever graduate from Statesboro High School listened Saturday morning as their salutatorian and valedictorian offered words of wisdom and encouragement.
    The Georgia Southern University Hanner Fieldhouse gymnasium was filled to near capacity as friends and family members of the graduates, most beaming with pride and calling to the graduates below, filled the bleachers and additional seats.

Statesboro High School Principal Marty Waters greeted the crowd and said the 106th commencement ceremony was the largest ever, with 301 students graduating.
    “Commencement means to begin, not to end,” he said. “Don’t stop here ... set the bar high in whatever you choose to do.”
    Holding with tradition, senior class President Andrea Johnson presented the junior class president, Brittany Anderson, with a class gift — “funds to use to landscape the new entrance to Statesboro High,” she said.
    The school is undergoing construction of a new building and a new entrance will connect the school with Northside Drive East.
    Salutatorian Jordan Jones used humor in his speech, recalling how his two older sisters, also salutatorian for their classes, selected themes for their speeches. One sister based her speech on a song, and Jones said he did, too.
    His song selection was “Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out,’” he quipped.
    Jones spoke of memories made throughout the high school years, and reminded students this past year was “ a year of ‘lasts’ — last prom, last senior skip day, last time we are all together.”
    Valedictorian John Marshall urged his fellow classmates to  achieve all they are able.
    “We’ve made our mark on Statesboro High, but how will we make our mark on the world?” he asked.
    He spoke of success: “Real success is simply the impact you have had on the people around you,” he said. “Success requires a trained and knowledgeable mind ... but we can’t stop there.
    “I challenge you to learn everything you possibly can,” he said. “Knowledge is dead without character... learn, work, give and love, and you will experience true success.”
    Before the commencement, students were scampering about to get ready for the milestone event. Brittany Holland, 18, had an air of confidence when asked about her future plans.
    “I am going to college, probably in Augusta,” she said. “I am going to be a radiological technician.”
    How did she feel about graduating? “Really excited,” she said.
    “I’m nervous, but I’m excited, too,” said Andrea Jackson, also 18. She said she intends to attend Valdosta State University and major in performing arts.
    Matt Wilson, 19, already attended the schooling he needs to pursue his dream career - animation, or “cartoons,” he said. He has already completed schooling in an art school in Florida and looks forward to making it in the cartoon world. He said he was not nervous about graduating. “I’m all right - no more school!” he said with a grin.
    Sharmaine Bacon, 18, plans to attend classes at Georgia Southern, majoring in psychology. “Eventually I want to go into forensic psychology,” she said.
    It wasn’t only the graduates who were nervous and excited. Mid-ceremony, there were still stragglers coming in, and faced the dilemma of finding a seat.
    Lillie Mae Humphries strained to catch sight of niece Kamore Humphries, who graduated Saturday. Kamore Humphries’ father, Henry Humphries, was all smiles.
    “I feel very good. I’m excited about it,” he said. “I think he’s going to be fine.” She is the first of four of his children to graduate, he said.
    Statesboro High School’s graduation ceremony was the first to be held at Hanner gym Saturday. Later that afternoon, both Southeast Bulloch High School and Portal High School held commencement ceremonies at the facility.

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