On Friday night, 242 students walked across Donell Woods Stadium as Liberty County High School’s graduating Class of 2015.
The LCHS band played the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” as students lined up for their last steps on the field as Panthers.
“Never forget where you came from because it is the foundation of your future,” senior-class vice president Shantyl Neely said.
These words marked the beginning of the commencement ceremony.
Following the speech, the LCHS Junior ROTC color guard presented the colors, and everyone stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem. Senior-class president Kayla Frazier then took the stage to welcome and introduce special guests.
Salutatorian Madison Preston reflected on the Class of 2015, mentioning its unique statistics.
“We have a newly found sense of direction that we didn’t have before,” she said. “This, along with confidence that comes with age, has helped us accomplish many things we haven’t done before.”
According to Preston, the graduating class contained 38 honor graduates, 91 HOPE Scholarship recipients, 17 Zell Miller Scholarship recipients, five athletic-scholarship recipients and 22 recipients of various other scholarships. In addition, four students graduated as certified nursing assistants, and seven were inducted into Liberty County High’s 1800 Club.
Valedictorian James Varnum gave the challenge address to his fellow graduates.
“I want to challenge the entire Class of 2015 to stop thinking,” he said. “Act in the present, don’t have any regrets. I am talking hashtag YOLO.”
He ended with a quote by his favorite author and recognized both Principal Paula Scott and Coach Willie Graham, who also are leaving LCHS.
Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee gave remarks, and Scott began her presentation of honors and awards. Every year, departmental awards voted on by faculty members are given to students who meet special requirements. In addition, Mikia Frazier was acknowledged for never missing a day of school in her academic career, totaling an estimated 2,340 days.
Senior-class secretary Charlotte Norsworthy gave a final message from the Class of 2015 and reminded the audience of proper etiquette during the awarding of diplomas.
After all 242 students names were announced, they all stood as the mother and brother of Cierra Aytch accepted her diploma on her behalf. Aytch was a member of the Class of 2015 who died after a 2½-year battle with leukemia.
The ceremony ended with the traditional singing of the alma mater, closing remarks and hundreds of hats being tossed in the air.