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Relief, joy for RH seniors at graduation
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Richmond Hill High Schools Chris Rivera pumps his fist in the air after walking across the stage Saturday afternoon at the Savannah Civic Center. - photo by Photo by Alena Cowley

With all the work he put into graduate, Dawson Nicholls said he wanted to throw his cap high in the air right after Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher conferred his high school diploma.

"I have not slept since Tuesday and I’m actually very proud that I’m here today," Nicholls said after the ceremony Saturday afternoon between his photos with family and friends.

He almost did not meet certain requirements, but did what he needed to in order to graduate.

As a short-range goal, Nicholls said he was looking forward to getting out of his graduation garb and eating a bowl of cereal. Long-range, he is planning to go to college and "make a ding in the universe."

Plans for Nia Beamon are college, law school, and "I’ll see from there."

"It’s kind of surreal, but it feels amazing. I’m glad to be done with high school, mostly though," Beamon said, adding how she will miss some parts of her experience, but she is ready for the future.

The nearly 500 graduates could hardly contain their excitement as cheers seemed to continually ring out throughout the ceremony, from the processional to the recessional. A packed Savannah Civic Center was bursting at the seams, too, with loud hoots, hollers, hands in the air, and even fog horns as administrators called names.

Their time in school since kindergarten totaled one million minutes, the equivalent of 234,000 plays of the Gangnam Style music video, senior class Vice-President Chris Sewell told the crowd during the ceremony’s formal welcome.

Within their 720 days of high school were times of work and fun, Sewell described, encouraging his classmates to continue that balance.

"No matter what you find yourself doing, go out of your way to enjoy it," he said. "Keep on working hard and playing hard."

Light laughs rippled through the audience as salutatorian Mason Murphy used his experiences with procrastination to point to a larger life lesson.

"With all the talk today about conserving our non-renewable resources in the world, it’s remarkable that we have yet to mention the most important out of all of them and also the one most taken for granted— time," Murphy said. "When we use our time effectively to engage in active pursuit of our goals, we are able to far surpass anything we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do."

Valedictorian Braden Chapman thanked teachers and reminisced on notable times before sharing his own high school take-aways and encouraging his classmates to thank their parents.

"Keep in mind, as we move on to this next stage of life, the teaching value of failure and the meaning of good friendship. Those two lessons will take you far in life," Chapman said.

Things started out lighthearted with talk of school lunch chicken fingers, but became emotional when senior class President Victoria Shuman took the podium after the graduates moved their tassels from right to left.

As they enter the world as young adults, Shuman said their high school memories will remind them of "who we want to be, who we are, and what we want."

"Knowing these, I have no doubt in my mind that we will all achieve success in our own way," Shuman said.

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