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The tassel is worth the hassel

  • Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Eileen Keithly/South Strand News Ben Wilkins Sal/Brandon Cribb third Highest Honors, and Suzanne Cooper student body president listen to Cody Floyd deliver his Val speech.

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A rain-drenched, shoulder-to-shoulder, standing-room-only crowd weathered unfavorable elements Friday evening to witness the Georgetown High School Class of 2014 receive diplomas.

Ushers Hanna Wolf and J.J. Sierra had their hands full when a rush of dripping-wet, last-minute arrivals hurried to make it through the gymnasium doors before they were locked for the processional. “Please be careful, the floor is very wet,” Wolf pleaded with the crowd.

The Georgetown High School band was not the only thing warming up in the gymnasium; so was the capacity crowd. Fanning program books were not enough to help one grandmother who was overcome by the heat and had to be helped down out of the bleachers by a soaked Police Chief Paul Gardner. As he tried to shake the water out of his phone, Gardner said, “Please go get me an officer with a working radio. We need a paramedic.”

But neither soggy conditions nor recovering grandmas were going to delay the highly anticipated moment: As the clock struck five, the Georgetown High School NJROTC Color Guard and Honor Guard got the party started, calling for the presentation of colors. The Georgetown High School Band, conducted by Director Chris Miller, hit the downbeat of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and single file, 240 seniors passed through the color guard rifle line to take their places on the gymnasium floor.

As the last blue, white, silver, and gold-robed senior took their place, Nia Walker stepped forward, and proudly represented her class with a powerful rendition of the national anthem that produced goose bumps and tears.

Salutatorian Ben Wilkins entered the gymnasium with a grin on his face that just seemed to grow wider with each passing moment. But at no time was it bigger than when he began his salutatorian speech by asking his classmates to preserve the moment by joining him in a “Selfie.” He told his classmates that he saw more than caps and gowns; he saw “beautiful memories and bright futures.” Telling his classmates that there is a great big world outside of Georgetown High School, Wilkins encouraged them to find a path that could lead them to their goals, whatever they may be. “If you can’t find a road to suit you, pave one,” Wilkins said.

The twinkle in Valedictorian Cody Floyd’s eyes gave the smile on Ben Wilkins face a run for the money. “We made it!” exclaimed Floyd as he began his speech. Claiming he didn’t like to give speeches, Floyd had a funny way of showing it, as he entertained his class while delivering a heartfelt and inspiring speech. Floyd suggested that the test of a person’s true character is how he or she reacts to adversity. “Adversity strikes when you least expect it,” Floyd told his class. Floyd explained to the packed gymnasium audience that the 2014 Class of Georgetown High School was unique because of the overall bond of friendship among the entire class. He challenged his classmates to not only set goals, but also to work harder to achieve success.

Being fully charged with promises of bright futures and paths to greatness, the class finally was able to stand in the line they had been waiting for all afternoon. As Seth Hillman, Georgetown High School Assistant Principal called out their full names, the 2014 class of seniors walked across the stage, shook the hands of Dr. Randall Dozier, superintendent of Georgetown County Schools, Dr. Celeste Pringle, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and R. Craig Evans, principal of Georgetown High School. With just one other order of business at hand, Evans pronounced the class “official graduates.” Off came the hats and high in the air they went.

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