COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County School System honored the Class of 2020 over the weekend by holding commencement ceremonies for Alcovy, Eastside and Newton high schools at Homer Sharp Stadium.
Newton High School kicked off the weekend with its in-person ceremony on Friday, July 31, at 8 p.m.
Following speeches from NHS principal Dr. Shannon Buff and NCSS superintendent Samantha Fuhrey, the names of the 140 registered graduates — out of a crop of nearly 600 — who elected to participate in the event were called.
Newton graduate Leroy Naza, who will be attending the University of West Georgia this fall, spoke on behalf of his class in expressing his appreciation for the event.
“I’m really glad [the school system] did something for us because, you know, it meant a lot to us,” Naza said. “I’m happy that they kept trying, they kept trying and it happened. So I’m happy.”
Alcovy High School’s in-person ceremony featured a total of 171 graduates participating Saturday morning, Aug. 1, out of 448 who earned their diplomas following the 2019-2020 school year.
The school's valedictorian, Austin Wells, and salutatorian, Vannessa Ezurike, were unable to attend, officials said.
During one solemn moment in the otherwise mostly joyous occasion, Principal Kristopher Williams presented the family of the late Quentin Martin with his diploma.
Martin, an Alcovy honor student, was killed in a drive-by shooting in October 2018 as he returned home from working at a local fast-food restaurant.
Graduate Tori Johnson wore a sash designating her as an honors student. She said she was preparing to attend Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville after a “pretty different” senior year.
"I appreciate that they did this,” Johnson said. "I thought it wouldn't happen."
Zackary Burrell said he was glad the school system decided to organize an in-person ceremony.
"I think it was good,” he said. "It keeps the tradition going. It's a good thing to have."
He said his class load was not as difficult this past year before in-person classes were canceled in March.
"It's sad it had to end early,” he said.
Zion Loucas said she was glad she "got to celebrate with our loved ones."
Alleah Loucas said she was glad she was able to participate in dual enrollment classes before the Georgia General Assembly this year moved to limit the number of students and courses in the program because of rapidly increasing costs.
Dual enrollment allows a high school student to earn credit toward a high school or college degree by enrolling in courses at an accredited college.
Eastside High School closed out the weekend with a ceremony on Saturday night, which featured speeches from Fuhrey and EHS principal Jeff Cher. The Eagles had 351 total graduates, 190 of which marched in the ceremony on Saturday.
A photo gallery from the three graduation ceremonies can be seen below.
Tom Spigolon, News Editor of The Covington News, contributed to this report.