A sea of blue cascaded across Long County High School’ s Veterans’ Stadium Friday night in Ludowici.
It washed across the football field, trickling in slowly and later rushing out like a surging tide. It wasn’t Mother Nature’s doing — it was the outgoing Blue Tide seniors storming into their new lives as graduates of LCHS’s Class of 2012.
The brief storm that preceded the graduation ceremony didn’t dampen the students’ spirit as several of the outgoing seniors playfully hiked up their gowns and took off their shoes to walk across the rain-soaked grass and receive their diplomas. Family and friends yelled from the bleachers, sent balloons into the air and held up signs cheering on the graduates, who later tossed their caps into the sky and gathered in a group circle offering up hugs and tears. They clung to the last bit of childhood and prepared for their new lives and young adults.
The Class of 2012 shared many first experiences. They were the first class of students that attended the newly rebuilt and, “Totally awesome,” as Salutatorian Lauren Young said, Smiley Elementary.
“Kindergarten is where most of us met for the first time and where we made our first friends,” Young said. “As a freshmen in high school, it was almost like kindergarten again as we experienced many firsts.
The first day was sheer terror and confusion, as we wondered if high school was going to be as hard as our eighth-grade teachers explained. But we later found out it was not that bad after all. It was our first year of having different schedules and being in classes with students of different grades, but of all these new experiences helped us grow as people and as students.”
Young thanked her fellow classmates and the support and guidance they received from parents and educators that kept them on the right path to make Friday night’s graduation possible.
She said high school opened the students’ minds and eyes to the endless possibilities that lay before them.
“Sadly, though all of these experiences will come to an end tonight …. this is the real end of our journey at Long County High School,” Young said. “Remember this night, and cherish all of the memories you made. Learn from the mistakes and turn them into lessons for the future. You are an incredible class filled with amazing people and we each have within us the ability to accomplish something extraordinary.”
Valedictorian Ruth Francis stepped up to the microphone and congratulated her outgoing class of seniors.
“We made it,” she said. “In a few short moments, we will walk across this stage and receive our coveted diplomas. Williams Jennings Bryan said, ‘Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it’s a thing to be achieved.’ This is the motto we have chosen for our class, and I believe it truly fits. We all have great destinies to fulfill, but we have to remember that great success is never an accident. Our decision and actions in the future will affect the path that we take to fulfill our destiny.”
She said each and every student representing the Class of 2012 has the ability to achieve whatever they desired.
“From running a business to running the country, the sky is the limit,” Francis said. “And as we look to achieving our future, we can never forget our past. Even though we are graduating we will all take our memories of Long County High School with us … these memories and experiences will never leave us because they have made us who we are … and now that we have achieved this goal our work is just beginning.”
The students then filed up the stage and one by one received their diplomas.
Afterward, the students formed a huge circle on the field, waited until class Vice President Haley Riddle formally dismissed them, and tossed their graduation caps into the air. The graduates rushed in and exchanged hugs of joy and tears with their fellow students and families.