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In praise of excellence
Sea Island Bank recognizes local honor graduates
While waiting for group pictures at Monday's Bulloch County Schools Honor Graduates Banquet at First Baptist Church, Charter Conservatory for the Arts and Technology senior Bitsy Pemberton, right, finds a creative use for the ribbons that came with gifts received by honorees by giving classmate Amanda White a hair do. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Rounds of applause, whoops, hollers, and nervous giggles filled the Fellowship Hall of First Baptist Church Monday when 197 honor graduates were recognized at the 28th annual honor graduate luncheon sponsored by Sea Island Bank.
    Speaking to the group of students, principals and guidance counselors from seven schools, Dr. Steve Engel, director of Georgia Southern University Honors Program, encouraged students to take advantage of opportunities where they would be challenged.
    “You’ve worked hard in high school and you are richly deserving of this recognition,” he noted.
    Dr. Engel shared with the audience stories of two successful college students and the attributes that brought them high achievement:  the gift of learning, hard work and perseverance.  
    “To succeed in college you must push yourself. When you’re interested in a topic, talk to your professor about it. When you are struggling in a class, talk to your professor about it. You will be asked to take on tasks in college that you do not think you can accomplish. But because of these assignments, you will grow and develop in significant ways you never thought possible,” he said.
    Sacona Sherffield, a Portal senior, felt overjoyed by the recognition.  
    “It’s really an honor to be an honor graduate. It means a lot to share this experience with our classmates. I can’t wait to take a step out on my own and see what it’s like,” she said.  
    Reid Channell of Trinity Christian School noted the event was very special to him.
    “I appreciate being recognized with my fellow students for working hard and doing what I needed to do in high school to prepare for college,” he said.
Commitment and discipline paid off for Southeast Bulloch senior Brooke Hensley.  
    “I’ve been working really hard these past four years and it felt nice to be recognized for what I have done and what I have achieved,” she said.
    Gene Eden, a veteran counselor at Southeast Bulloch, noted the growth in the event over the years.  
    “We have gone from a very small, quaint banquet to a large hall which says a lot about what’s happening in our school system, both public and private,” he said. “I think it’s great for Sea Island to bring the whole set of county schools together and each be able to see the other groups and realize how many bright kids we have in this county.  It’s always been a fun day for us as educators to see the entire group together in this capacity…it’s heartwarming.”
    Other students were appreciative of the unity the event elicited.   
“It was neat seeing the brightest students from all the schools; and it was special because there has not been an event like this where we could all come together,” said John Manack, a senior at Bulloch Academy.
     “This is the largest group of students that we have ever recognized,” said Wayne Akins, president of Sea Island Bank. “When we first hosted this event, it was small enough to hold it inside the bank in a conference room.  We are excited that children are striving harder to achieve this goal.
    “It’s important to recognize these students’ accomplishments.  The next few weeks will go by in a flash and we want to create another memory for them during this important time in their lives,” Akins said. 
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