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Posted: May 27, 2009 12:30 a.m.

25 new cougars on the prowl

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The top of their class: Kelly Ann King, left, was the class valedictorian. William Eckerle, right, was the salutatorian.

On Saturday morning, Piedmont Academy held its 39th commencement exercises and awarded high school diplomas to 25 graduates in the school’s gymnasium. The procession was lead by Headmaster Dr. Michael Rossi, the school’s Board of Trustees, the school’s faculty, junior class ushers and senior class mascots to "Largo" by Handel and "Pomp and Circumstance" by Elgar.

Proud parents, relatives and friends were greeted by the invocation given by class chaplain, Kelly Ann King. Salutatorian, William Padraic Eckerle reflected on the wonderful memories that united the Class of 2009. He thanked parents who helped mold them into the people they are today, and said the graduates were an extension of their teachings and love. Eckerle spoke to the audience on the importance of the lessons they had learned to build character and the life altering events in high school that have helped shape them into the people they are today. As life goes on, Eckerle noted that people will not remember how much money they made or how many friends they had, but how much they enjoyed the experience. He quoted Confucious by saying, "wherever you go, go with your heart."

Soloist Ashlan Elizabeth Troutman sang a moving selection, "Don’t Forget to Remember Me" by Hayes, Loveless and George. She was followed by King, who began her address by encompassing the mind, body and spirit in the theme for the Class of 2009. She told the audience the students were stepping out into a new stage, an exciting time and the class must give credit to the school, their family and their friends they have made along the journey. Mutually, the class knew the key to success is hard work and perseverance. She quoted from Aristotle, "the whole is more than the sum of its parts," and she knew by being mindful of their future fellow citizens of towns, state and country, her classmates would make a better place in the world because they were part of the process.

Prior to presenting individual scholarships and accomplishments, alumna and faculty member Bobbi Sauls presented the Charlotte S. Crawley Faculty Scholarship to King. Bank of Monticello board member David Morrison presented the bank’s scholarship to Alyson Danielle Kinard; bank president Thurman Willis presented two scholarships from McIntosh State Bank to Tamara Grace Sessums as well as to Ryan Thomas McBroom.

Representing Piedmont Academy’s Grandparents’ Club was Gayle Marsh. Marsh presented their club’s scholarship to Eckerle and Hugo Huerta McCoy. Alumnus Chris Hornibrook, last year’s recipient of the Jack H. Yearwood Memorial Scholarship, presented this year’s graduate, Elizabeth Morgan Gilbert with the award.

Several achievements were announced. Dr. Rossi recognized four seniors who had attended Piedmont Academy since kindergarten and presented each graduate with a gift. They included, Bobby Lee Benjamin Jr., Kale Michael George Blackshear, Gilbert and Brittany Marie Wilson.

Class secretary, Troutman, recognized the faculty and staff of Piedmont Academy. She expressed tremendous gratitude to the employees of the school and how much the class appreciated their dedication and support to not only to their class, but to all students of Piedmont Academy.

Finally, in accordance with the State of Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Accrediting Commission, diplomas were presented by Dr. Rossi and Board of Trustees Chair Gena Smith. Diplomas were given to all 25 graduates.

Following the distribution of diplomas, class Treasurer Roberts, recognized the parents of the Class of 2009. He thanked the parents for the many sacrifices they had made to bring their children to this point in their lives, as well was their hours devoted to helping their children succeed, both in and out of the classroom.

Class Vice President Blackshear,presented a visual presentation for those in attendance. This was followed by class President Stevenson, giving acknowledgements to the class senior mascots and first grade students, Jordan Garret King and Corinne Danielle Hanson. Stevenson also thanked the graduation ushers Bailey LaRae Dobbs, Randi Leigh Small, Carter Harris Greeson, Mary Greeson and Trevor James Wilson.

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