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Posted: May 31, 2009 12:30 a.m.

A new horizon

High school ends for county seniors, new adventures begin

Brittany Thomas/

Saturday marked a milestone in the lives of more than 500 of Newton County’s students when Eastside, Alcovy and Newton high schools held their commencement ceremonies.

Eastside High School held their graduation at 10 a.m. at The Church in the Now in Conyers. Salutatorian Ariel VanLeuven addressed the class first.

"Even though we are moving on and growing up I really value the times we’ve shared. I hope that everyone can cherish these times we’ve shared. We were all meant to do something of value; we’ve just got to figure out what that is. And when you find something you enjoy you should build your life around it."

Valedictorian Leaha Wynn spoke next to her fellow students.

"I have realized this is actually just the beginning for us," she said. "Who knows in what way we’ll make a difference. I implore you to embrace the challenges ahead, set your goals high, and follow them diligently because we all can achieve them. This is our time and our chance to make a difference in the world. Do not take that for granted. I know we can make a difference. Let’s go out there, have fun and together, make a difference."

Students from Alcovy High School’s class of 2009 gathered in the school’s gymnasium to accept their diplomas.

"What a relief it is to finally be here," said Salutatorian Mary Wright. "Together as a class we will walk across this stage and accept our diplomas. Before, we have always left as students, but today we leave as high school graduates. I believe," she continued, "that each one of us with our own unique traits and talents can make a difference. Continue boldly on toward the dreams that guide you. As a final challenge, I urge you to find your purpose. Today is a starting point toward that purpose."

Kimberly Rary, the class’ valedictorian reminisced about the opening of AHS and the merging of two competing schools together.

"We started at AHS our 10th grade year, coming from different schools… but we bonded in our black and gold thread. I’m proud to say I’m a member of the class of 2009. I believe we will make an impact on the world that is far greater than any could have thought. I urge to find your niche. Wherever life leads you in the years to come, never forget where you started."

AHS senior Ebony Patrick was the recipient of the prestigious Atlanta Journal Cup award, the highest award for a member of the senior class, a student who excels and shows leadership in community activities, arts, athletics and academics.

Newton High School’s class of 2009 wrapped up the county’s graduation ceremonies for the 2008-2009 school year at 4 p.m. also at Church in the Now.

Valedictorian Sarah Lanners addressed her class first, urging her classmates to be proud of the accomplishments they had achieved thus far.

"But our path hasn’t ended and there’s progress still to make. We must believe we can attain our desires and the world will welcome it. We have to take risks," she continued. "So we can become the next generation to usher in success."

Salutatorian Geoffrey Nolan spoke next to his class.

"I owe Dr. Sams my deepest gratitude for all he’s done for the senior class," he said before beginning his speech.

"It is your impact on the world and your community that measures your success," he said. "I encourage you to repeat the success you’ve had this year for the rest of your life. ‘Yes we can’ has become ‘yes we did!’ Thank you and congratulations."

Make sure to check www.covnews.com for a list of graduates from Eastside, Alcovy and Newton High Schools.

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