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Magazine salutes students, marks anniversary

Tope 12 Shinning Seniors honored

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POSTED: March 31, 2014 10:25 a.m.
Photo by Lewis Levine/

Liberty Life magazine’s Top 12 Shining Seniors and honorable-mention students pose for a group photo after Thursday night’s awards ceremony at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center in Flemington. The quarterly lifestyles magazine, now in its fourth year, annually honors exceptional high-school seniors from Liberty County High School, Bradwell Institute, First Presbyterian Christian Academy and Long County High School.

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Liberty Life magazine recognized Liberty and Long counties’ finest young leaders Thursday during an awards ceremony and reception at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center. More than 150 students, family members and educators attended.
The quarterly lifestyles magazine, now in its fourth year, honored its “Top 12 Shining Seniors” and other exceptional high-school seniors from Liberty County High School, Bradwell Institute, First Presbyterian Christian Academy and Long County High School. A cover story profiling these exemplary youth is in the spring 2014 edition of Liberty Life magazine, which is available now.
“The Coastal Courier and Liberty Life magazine are proud to salute these outstanding students from a new class of seniors from Liberty and Long counties,” said Mark Griffin, Liberty Life magazine publisher. “These students have proven that dedication and hard work still matter and that our communities have a great group of young people ready to make a difference. We are very proud to salute and sponsor these shining seniors.”
Griffin said he also is proud of how the magazine itself has progressed, but promised the Liberty Life staff would not rest on its laurels.
“Liberty Life is, unquestionably, the best magazine focusing on the lifestyle of our community. The quality of writing, photography and layout is very good,” he said. “Readers have really responded, and copies sell quickly. We work hard on every issue to make it the best, and the Georgia Press Association has recognized the magazine as the best in the state. We hope to make Liberty Life even better in the years ahead.”
The Top 12 Shining Seniors for this year include: Bradwell students Devyn Lewis, Jun Wei Ren and Patience Wright; Long County students Kelsey Higgason, Brandon James Abbot and James Fox; FPCA students Brooke Standard, Summer Mehalko and Clark Sukaratana; and LCHS students Oriana Hollingsworth, Nicholas Carter and Jaquan Hutcherson.
In addition to the Top 12, the magazine recognized an accomplished group of honorable mentions: Bradwell students Carleigh Buck, Jessica Lee, Zhen Ni Ren, Precious Wright (twin sister to Patience Wright), Cameron Riles, Heather Rego, Leah Hayes, Lily-Ann Huerd and Brandon Edwards; Long County students Tyann Brown, Sarai Castillo, Gage Kasperian, Nicholas Stock and Sanquez Fair; LCHS students Jordan Waters and Mary Wilson; and FPCA student Bethany Lormis.
Liberty Life magazine staffers said deciding who to select for the honor among the stacks of nominations they received was a difficult task.
Magazine editor-in-chief Hollie Moore Barnidge said Liberty Life employees “poured over the applications for several hours.”
“We tried to pick just 10; we couldn’t, so we went to 12,” Barnidge said.
This allowed the magazine staff to pick three students from each of the four schools.
“We looked for well-rounded students,” Barnidge said. “Good grades were important, but we also looked at how involved they were in the community and at the variety of their extra-curricular activities. I think we managed to get a diverse group. Some of them are star athletes, some are in ROTC. We also asked the nominators to tell us about obstacles the seniors have overcome in their lives.”
For example, one such student who dealt with personal difficulties is Bradwell’s Jun Wei Ren, she said. He had to overcome the language barrier and adapt to a new county when his family made their home in Hinesville four years ago, the magazine editor said.
Another is FPCA student athlete Summer Ray Mehalko, who had to overcome a serious knee injury she sustained when playing basketball, Barnidge added.
“These seniors are really deserving of this honor,” she said.
Each Top 12 senior and honorable mention received goody bags when called to the stage. Liberty Life business manager Kathryn Fox said local businesses were generous and provided winning students with gifts and coupons. Vendors included VIP Office Products, Le Jolie Tanning Salon, Hinesville Pharmacy, Farmers Natural Foods, McDonald’s, Auto Shine, Bath & Body Works and Firehouse Subs.
Fox, who emceed the awards ceremony, thanked performing arts center event coordinator Dr. Kathryn Blackmon for use of the facility, Lynn Cannon of Occasions Catering for providing food for the honorees and their guests, and Xpress Signs for producing posters of the Top 12 seniors.


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