Friday and Saturday marked a milestone for hundreds of local students when Newton, Eastside, Alcovy and Social Circle high schools held their commencement exercises.
Graduation ceremonies for Newton and Social Circle were held Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Church in the New and the gymnasium of Social Circle High School and Eastside and Alcovy were held Saturday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Church of the Now.
Newton High School
Valedictorian Melissa Brooke Wilson spoke first to the class of 366 graduates, telling them to always make their own way in the world.
"As we walk, run or even fly through the years, we must remember to never walk the path of others... I ask that we each look back on this day one year from now and recollect on our accomplishments."
Janae' Jackson, the school's salutatorian spoke next.
"Graduation is the pinnacle of our high school career," she said. "And we are one of the best classes to date... Our education at Newton High School has helped prepare us for our future... and we have grown from children into intelligent responsible adults."
The Newton High School class of 2010 were offered more than $5 million in scholarships, which includes HOPE.
Social Circle High School
Co-Salutatorians Bradley Wise and Scott Wise played a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to decide which of them would be the first to speak at the Social Circle High School graduation ceremony. Scott won, and was the first to speak to the 101 graduates.
"We aren't kids anymore," Scott said. "In this crowd, I see a lot of adults... We're grown-ups now, we've come a long way." He also encouraged his classmates to take advantage of their capabilities.
"You made it guys!" his twin brother Bradley told the students next. "One life ends, and another begins. Our lives are ending here in Social Circle and we're starting with a new slate."
Valedictorian Dana Hopkins addressed the students and gathered friends and family members next.
"A goal without a plan is only a wish, but it cannot replace everyday life. Exist in this moment," she encouraged her classmates. "We have the talents, we have the brains, we have the potential. Don't be afraid to be great."
Eastside High School
"Today we are experiencing a new defining moment," said salutatorian Naomi Wills. "Our high school graduation... As our sun sets on high school we see the sun rise on a new horizon of our future," she said. "Let no challenge discourage you, let no person dissuade you from your dreams."
Valedictorian Katelyn Yeomans addressed the class of 247 students, thanking her mother especially for home schooling her throughout her elementary years and instilling in her a love for learning, and reminding her fellow graduates that they should be thankful for their family, teachers and friends.
"We've finally arrived at this special place - our high school graduation... I will cherish the friendship and memories of these years," she said. "Soon it will be our turn to support those around us... Eagles, now is the time to spread our wings and soar."
The Eastside High School class of 2010 were awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships, which does not include HOPE.
Alcovy High School
"Congratulations fellow students, we did it!" yelled Alcovy High School salutatorian Elizabeth Darazs. She urged her fellow graduates to laugh often in their life, saying "we should all laugh as many times as possible because life flashes by in the blink of an eye…
"Each and every individual in this room has the intellect and drive to become great and successful… We start the chain of what will come. We are the foundation of success."
Valedictorian Zachary Bowers addressed the other 336 graduating seniors, calling the day one of celebration.
"Today is a day of celebration and a time to rejoice. The class of 2010 is truly the first graduating class of Alcovy High School… We have grown from simply being ‘that other school,’ " he said, listing the various accomplishments, from athletics to academics.
"We have reached one of the defining moments in out lives, but it won’t be the last unless we choose it to be so," he said. "Nothing is out our reach, the tragedy would be in believing it is."
The Alcovy High School class of 2010 were awarded $1.7 million in scholarships, which does not include HOPE.