The 2023 class of Liberty County High School boasted 25 National Honor Society members among its 250 graduates Friday night at Donell Woods Stadium, and a graduating class that has garnered more than $866,500 in scholarships – “and that number is still growing,” said class salutatorian Mitchell Perdue.
Perdue told his classmates they have accomplished a collective goal they have been working toward for 12 years.
“It feels like just yesterday we had our last first day of school,” he said, “and I thought to myself, ‘here comes another long year of high school.’ As I stand before you now in our last moment of high school, I feel as if it all went too quick, wishing I had just a little more time to spend here. I do not wish to make us regret or make us go back. I wish to make us appreciate what we have accomplished. Every member of the class of 2023 has something to celebrate.”
Perdue called Friday night’s graduation ceremony a chance to look back on what the class has done and to look forward to what can be accomplished.
“I feel confident that as a class we will move on to even bigger successes,” he said.
“We all have our own paths to follow,” said senior class president Amber Brown. “The past four years have flown by and have prepared us for the future.”
Valedictorian Emma Beasley, who is also the class’ STAR student and is headed to Georgia Tech to study neuroscience, thanked her parents, grandparents, teachers and fellow students. She also thank the Liberty County Board of Education “for working to make this school system a place that cultivates young leaders and contributors to society.”
Beasley also reflected on the class’ four years of high school and the progress the class has made, from “trying to find classrooms, who to sit with at lunch and thinking of ways to fit in,” she said.
“We have come a long way,” Beasley said.
She also noted the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent students home for the final two months of their freshmen year.
“Instead of seeing our friends in a classroom,” Beasley said, “we saw them on an iPad screen. Instead of being asked to put our phones away, we were asked to turn our cameras on.”
But as students returned to full-time, in-person classes, they became upperclassmen and started gaining confidence in themselves, Beasley said, even if meant doing their best to stay awake in class and avoid “the infamous Panthers Sleepers Instagram page.”
“It felt good to be back at our regular in-person shenanigans,” Beasley said.
Their accomplishment of earning a high school diploma shows they can push themselves, Beasley acknowledged.
“I learned you have to overcome challenges instead of letting them overcome you,” she said. “You are sitting here tonight because you have confronted challenges and risen above them. The world is what you make of it. There are endless possibilities lying ahead, so take advantage of any opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and learn.”
She also encouraged her classmates put themselves in situations that make them uncomfortable.
“If you are not a little uncomfortable, you are not learning,” she said. “Pushing yourself past your limit can be beneficial.”
Beasley also exhorted her fellow graduates to show kindness to others, to be positive and to be optimistic.
“Bring purpose to your life by being kind to others,” she said. “A simple compliment is enough to make someone’s day. Remember to persevere, be confident and always believe in yourself.”
Diplomas also were presented posthumously to the families of Jacob Clement and Laci Straehly.
VIDEO: 2023 Liberty High graduation