The three Newton County high schools bid farewell to their graduating seniors Saturday.
For some, there will be no more early morning classes, no late nights cramming for exams, no more school.
For Newton High's valedictorian Joey Barrick and salutatorian Megan Heineman, the journey is just beginning.
As NHS' top graduate, Barrick finished his high school career as a straight A student and plans to match wits with fellow incoming freshmen at the Georgia Institute of Technology this fall.
Even though he finished at the top of his class and excelled in mathematics, Barrick said he knows he'll be a smaller fish in a big pond at Georgia Tech.
While at Georgia Tech, Barrick said he plans on studying engineering and believes the Atlanta school is perfect for what he wants to do.
"I just want to be an engineer and in the Southeast, I think (Georgia) Tech is the best place for that," he said. "I'd like to study computer engineering and I'm really interested in getting into nanotechnology.
"I haven't really decided between nanotechnology or alternative fuels."
Barrick is a member of the Fellowship Christian Athletes club at Newton and played baseball on the varsity Ram squad. As a junior, he made the All-County Baseball team.
When it comes to the classroom, Barrick said he enjoyed math the most.
"I'm a math guy," he said nonchalantly.
"That's an understatement," Heineman interjected.
"I never received anything less than a 100 in math," Barrick followed.
Learning tough concepts is something that just comes easily to him, he said. He added he only studied for a handful of exams during his scholastic career.
Advanced placement and honors classes in high school are similar to college major classes in that a group of students often take a series of classes together, in effect, becoming a close-knit group. That sort of interaction is evident when you talk to the two students together. The camaraderie is what both of them will miss after graduation.
"I'm really going to miss the atmosphere here," Barrick said. "I'll miss all of the people we started with, our little click. Generally, we all took the same classes and we grew up together and we've known each other for so long. I'll miss everyone."
Barrick hopes to go on and receive his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and isn't certain what the future holds beyond that.
"I don't know if I'd leave Georgia just for a job," he said. "Obviously if I go to MIT that constitutes leaving Newton County, but five or six years down the road I just don't know. My family and all my friends are here."
Barrick hopes to enter the private sector upon graduation. He's resolved in his abilities and believes no matter what, he's determined to succeed.
"I hope to get a good-paying job and buy a modest house," he said. "I hope to make my first promotion rather quickly and maybe settle into a family. I'm looking forward to it."
As valedictorian, Barrick doesn't have to worry about fronting a huge education bill as he received plenty of scholarship money including a substantial scholarship to Georgia Tech. But before jumping into any of that, he has a busy summer ahead.
"I plan on wake boarding with friends up at Lake Lanier," he said. "I also plan on going caving in about a month to Pigeon Mountain in Lafayette. It's Georgia's biggest cave and it's about five miles deep so I plan on going up there for about a week."
Megan HeinemanLike Barrick, Heineman balanced her studies with athletics as she played soccer and ran cross country, a sport she hopes to continue at Emory where she plans to attend this fall. Where Barrick enjoyed math, Heineman said a geometry class almost ruined her perfect GPA.
"I came close to getting a B in geometry," she said. "I got like a 90 or 91. It was tough."
Good grades aside, Heineman knows she has a challenging road ahead as she aspires to become a doctor.
"I don't really know what field I want to specialize in yet, but I'll figure that out before I go to medical school," Heineman said. "I want to help people and I like science and biology. They go hand in hand."
She said she is excited about the prospect of leaving home and attending such a prestigious university and maybe beyond.
"It all depends on where I go to medical school," Heineman said. "I'm leaning towards becoming an anesthesiologist or oncologist. I want to help with cancer or knock people out."
Heineman said she enjoyed her time at Newton and while some of her friends moved over to Alcovy, she still keeps in touch with them and follows their academic careers.
As a member of the soccer team, she said she'll always remember 2007.
"There were a lot of good memories here," she said. "Last year we had a great time and our soccer team did awesome when we made it to the second round of the state tournament."
Like Barrick, Heineman grew fond of her classmates and said she'll miss them.
"It's weird to think about it," she said about leaving high school. "When I think about it it's like, wow. These are people I've seen almost everyday for my whole life and I probably won't see them anymore and if I do, it will be only to visit. I'll miss some of the really good teachers too."
Before getting back into the rhythm of school, Heineman plans to take it easy this summer.
"I am going to New Jersey beach and the down to Panama City," she said. "I'm looking forward to the trip to Jersey even though it has my family in it and not my friends. But I've done it since I was a kid."