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A record class at GSU
More than 2,600 move the tassels at Georgia Southern
051212 GSU GRAD 03
Raised hands and decorated caps were a hallmark of Saturday's 2012 Georgia Southern University Spring Commencement at Paulson Stadium. More than 2,600 participated in the commencement ceremony as an estimated 23,000 looked on. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

There were no shortages of undergraduates this year, as thousands of students donned the black cap and gown, then turned the tassel to become Georgia Southern University alumnus.
    The 84th annual GSU Spring Commencement boasted record numbers for graduate and undergraduate degrees.
    “This year’s graduating class in one of the best in our history.  In fact, it sets a record for our largest graduating class as we have more than 2,600 graduates graduating both today and yesterday as well,” university spokesman Christian Flathman.
    The 2012 graduates set another record according to Flathman, as family members and friends packed Allen E. Paulson Stadium.  An estimated crowd of 23,000 attended the commencement. 
“Looking at the growth of Georgia Southern in the past few years, all signs are pointing up. We are attracting record numbers of students and numbers of applicants, and we’re one of the most popular universities in the country based on doing so.  All signs point to a very positive future for Georgia Southern. We have increased numbers of graduates and, certainly, today is a great example of that,” Flathman said.
    Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, the state’s adjutant general and a former state senator gave the commencement address. In his eight minutes, Butterworth focused on the metaphor of a road trip, comparing college to the preparation for a long journey.
     He reminded the students of where they could find the strength they needed, as he asked all the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and other family and friends in attendance to rise as a reminder to the undergraduates of the people who will always be there for support.
    University President Brooks Keel conferred the undergraduate degrees, and the students of GSU took the stage one by one.
    The commencement ended with the GSU tradition of Freedom, an American bald eagle, soaring over Paulson Stadium to the crescendo of the alma mater.

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