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HUBBARD: This won't be the last time we hear of the Class of 2023
Graduation column

It is graduation season once again for our four local high schools. 

Over the final three days of this week, Alcovy, Eastside, Newton and Social Circle’s Class of 2023 will walk across the stage. They will walk on the stage as high school seniors and they will leave the stage as high school graduates. 

The past four years for these students has been anything but smooth sailing. Throughout each student’s high school careers, they were met with many challenges and obstacles. 

Just look toward the beginning of high school. Over halfway through their freshman year, the COVID-19 pandemic stripped away all normalcy. Classes were moved online, social distancing became a thing and it was a huge task that these seniors met head on. 

I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and I bet many students in this graduating class wondered if they would even get to have a “normal” high school life. 

The Class of 2023 didn’t cower or run away — they overcame it. 

Among these graduating seniors are individuals who excelled in the classroom as well as on the athletic scene. 

Alcovy seniors have reset the majority of its athletics history books. Eastside seniors have maintained a consistent postseason presence. Newton seniors have helped the Rams continue closing the gap on Region 4-AAAAAAA competition – one of the state’s toughest regions in many sports – and Social Circle seniors have redefined the standard of their schools’ sports programs. 

Sprinkled across the entire local landscape have been region championships, playoff runs and much more. And a huge credit has to go to these seniors, I believe.  

I have been fortunate enough to cover these graduating senior athletes in their final two seasons as Tigers, Eagles, Rams and Redskins. And I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to do so. 

Amid all of it, I've gotten to know some stellar individuals. 

At Alcovy, I've gotten to know Ashton Evans, Tajah Jackson, Tioni Parker and Braxton Crawford. Then, E'Sean Arnold, Emma Hopper, Mehkyla White and Michael Simmons from Eastside have been great to talk as well. 

From Newton, I've had some fun conversations with Kenton George, Makenzie Joseph, Jakai Newton and Savannah Massey. It has been awesome getting to know Macy Langley, Ethan Knight, Madalyn Spinks and Lamarius Jackson from Social Circle, too. 

Though I didn’t get to know all of the seniors as well as others, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed covering each one performing at a high level. 

A good portion of these seniors had such performances that earned them scholarships, too. In total, 36 student-athletes from the Newton County area signed national letters of intent to play on the collegiate level. 

Knowing some of these seniors at and away from the playing field removes any doubt from my mind that the Class of 2023 is destined for greatness. No matter if they're going to college, the workforce or the military, the sky's the limit moving forward.

I firmly believe that this area has not heard the last from the Class of 2023. I can easily say without hesitation that these individuals are going to go off and accomplish greater things than they did in high school. 

So, congratulations to the Class of 2023! As I’ve said, it has been a pleasure having a front row seat witnessing each student-athlete’s dynamic abilities. Keep striving for greatness and never let any obstacle — whether it be great or small — deter you from attaining your goals. 

Keep in touch with this local sports reporter, too, and don’t be a stranger. When y’all go off and accomplish something great, let me know! God bless.

Phillip B. Hubbard is the sports editor for The Covington News. He can be reached at