Liberty County High School graduated 236 seniors from its class of 2013 during an early morning ceremony Saturday at Donell Woods Stadium.
The home side of the stadium was filled from one end to the other with family and friends who cheered and whistled for their graduates. While band director Paul Sohayda led the school band in "Pomp and Circumstance," faculty and students marched to their seats at the center of the football field.
After the school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps color guard marched forward, senior class treasurer and valedictorian Justin Elsey led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance, then the band played the "Star-Spangled Banner." Less than an hour later, the former high-school students were released to begin another phase of their young lives.
"I think it went very well," LCHS Principal Paula Scott said. "I was pleased with our graduates. Some of these graduates are really special people with great leadership potential. I’ll be interested in learning what they become."
Scott, who has been in education for more than 20 years, has been the principal at LCHS for 16 years, and was the assistant principal for four years. A Bradwell Institute graduate, she started her teaching career in Hinesville. She said each year’s graduating class has a certain personality about it that helps her remember those students whose lives she has touched.
One student not present for graduation was remembered with a special diploma presentation to her brother and sister. Morgan and Nicholas York received a high-school diploma for Tiffany York, who was murdered in 2011. Scott said York was a precious girl and a member of their yearbook staff who’ll never be forgotten.
Following remarks by senior class vice president Kenyan Richardson, president Dominique Pontiflet, salutatorian Anne Ouyang, valedictorian Justin Elsey and secretary Sadrina Sampson, special recognition was given to 26 students graduating with honors and those recognized by faculty for perfect attendance or department awards for English, fine arts, mathematics, the Abraham Williams Memorial Award, physical education, science, social studies and technical/career education.
Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer certified LCHS’ seniors as graduates, and then diplomas were presented to students in alphabetical order. Scott directed the seniors to move their cap tassels from the right side to the left, signifying their completion of high school. When she congratulated them and dismissed the class of 2013, caps sailed into the air, which was filled with screams, cries and whistles.
Taylor Malone and Tanesha Mills shared a hug, while Brytanie Sylvester talked with family, saying she plans to be a pre-kindergarten teacher and will pursue a degree in education, but she hasn’t decided on a school.
Wearing a colorful lei around his neck, Rashawn Harris hugged his big brother, Quiton Harris, and graduating buddy, Montae Edelen. Edelen said he is heading to the University of Alabama, where he plans to major in criminal justice. He said he is part of a military family, but now he is going "home" to Alabama.