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Honor grads recognized at SIB luncheon
County celebrates best and brightest in local schools
041211 HONOR GRADS 01 web
While fellow Bulloch County honor graduates line up to get their picture taken, Statesboro High senior Brittany Stewart, 17, enjoys an impromptu performance on the piano by classmate Rontavius Washington, 18, during Tuesday's Bulloch County Honor Graduate Luncheon hosted by Sea Island Bank at First Baptist Church. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Bulloch County’s honor graduates learned the secret of happiness Tuesday as they enjoyed a luncheon sponsored by Sea Island Bank.
The event was the 30th annual celebration of the county’s honor graduates, a gesture by the bank to acknowledge the success of area students who achieved honor graduate status by academic excellence.
Held at Statesboro’s First Baptist Church, the luncheon featured keynote speaker Dr. Trey Denton, professor of marketing at Georgia Southern University.
Over 160 honor graduates from Portal High School, Southeast Bulloch High School, Trinity Baptist Church School, Bible Baptist Church School, the Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology and Bulloch Academy attended the event.
“We’re very proud of our 30 years in this community, honoring our graduates,” said Darron Burnette, executive vice president of Sea Island Bank.
He recognized three educators who have been with the school system for all 30 years: Beth Averitt Burke, Sylvia Brannen Thomas and Todd Williford. All three were given gift bags.
The students were also awarded certificates and gifts at the end of the luncheon.
Sea Island President Wayne Akins also spoke of the length of time that has passed since the tradition began.
“It (the honor graduate luncheon) started the year after I graduated high school,” he said. “It’s hard to believe we are celebrating 30 years.”
Denton started his speech with humor right off the bat, using a slide presentation to emphasize his points. A short film clip about a baby named Ethan, who cackled with glee every time he or his father ripped a piece of paper, brought lots of laughter from the audience as well.
Later in his presentation, Denton showed another clip titled “Where The Hell is Matt?” (more information at Internet website www.wherethehellismatt.com).
The clip shows a man who travels all over the world, dancing rather badly. He began by doing so to let his friends and family know where he was during his travels, but the idea grew. Stride gum sponsored Matt for another video, which went viral. The video shows other people Matt met at each location he stopped, dancing in imitation of his awkward jig.
The video makes people happy, Denton said.
He told the group to listen to their parents, who only want to make them happy and will act oddly in trying to do so. “The closer you get to going to college, the crazier your parents are going to get,” he said. They will always think of the students as their children, no matter how old they get, he said.
Denton said it is very important to have a wide range of what makes one happy. “Go ahead and accept that certain things will happen to you in life – some good, some bad.”
The best way to be happy is be like Matt – making others happy, he said. “Helping others and loving others is our primary function. People are happiest who make others happy and when helping others.”
He also showed a video clip of Steven Colbert singing a song called "Friday,” another example of the feel-good vibe.
“It’s the little things that can make you happy,” he said. “If you look for joy and happiness and goodness in the world, you certainly will find it.”
Over 36 million people have watched Matt’s video, which Denton said shows “we have much more in common than we have different. It is a beautiful gift to give to the world.”
In a final bit of advice to the students, he said “Devote your life to making others happy, and then you’ll be happy.”

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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