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291 walk at Richmond Hill HS
The graduating class of 2010, along with a packed house of parents, other family members and friends, stands for the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the ceremony. - photo by Photo by Lori Wynn
The Richmond Hill High School graduating class of 2010 made a packed house in the Sports Center at Armstrong Atlantic State University proud Saturday, when 291 seniors crossed the stage to receive their diplomas.
The seniors were all smiles as took their seats for the ceremony while the Richmond Hill High School Wildcat Band played “Pomp and Circumstance.” And a sense of accomplishment began to fill the air as the RHHS Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps presented class colors to the graduating class of 2011 and senior class vice president Lori Barnes led the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Commencement may be the end; however, let us remember the past is our heritage, the present is our responsibility and future is our challenge,” Katie DeLong, senior class secretary, said in her welcome speech. “And wherever you are in life, may we never forget our roots and the honor of being a Richmond Hill Wildcat.”
In his salutatory address, Kevin Soria thanked teachers for the “wealth of information we’ll use throughout our lives” and parents for always being “able to put up with us and love us when we’ve been unlovable.”
Now, with education and unconditional love in tow, seniors can “go out into the world and do something big,” he said.
Soria noted changes in the world, like the discovery of water on the moon, and challenges, like economic downturns, that face his peers. But seniors can take what they’ve learned thus far to make their mark on the world, he said.
“We define the 21st century as we want to,” Soria said.
Shannon Bryant focused her valedictorian speech on the topic of success – and how one person’s success may be different but no less meaningful than anyone else’s.
“I succeeded academically and my performance earned me the privilege, I guess, of delivering this brief oration,” she said. “And yet, my success is no different and no better than any of yours. We’ve all made it here today. We are all graduating.”
She encouraged her classmates to defy society-driven definitions that determine someone’s worth by the grades they make or sports they play in high school and the colleges they attend and salaries they make as adults.
Bryant reminded her peers that whether they go on to college, join the military, become stay-at-home parents or go straight to work they will all be successful.
“Society will attempt to define our lives – shape us against lofty standards that most cannot meet,” Bryant said. “But I tell you now, it is not the right of society to mold us into preconceived ideals. Rather, it is up to us to forge our paths through life according to our interests and strengths as we perceive them.
“We must guide ourselves to make it in this world that so often seems anxious to manufacture failure … It is our individualism that will bring us success. We must never lose sight of our own goals and ambitions. For if we do our lives are lost.”
Just before presenting the graduates, RHHS principal Dr. Charles Spann noted that this year’s class received about $5.5 million in scholarships that will help them pursue higher education.
After each of Richmond Hill’s graduates had crossed the stage, senior class vice president Lori Barnes asked the class to remember what they’ve been given in the last four years and to use their gifts and talents “to show the world what you’re made of,” be it in the home, an office or the classroom.
“Whatever path you choose, be sure to be successful in what you do,” she said. “Making a lasting impression on someone’s life can be success. Being remembered as a good person can be success.”
In his closing remarks, senior class president Dylan Lyle said there are many parts of the last four years that seniors will always have.
“These four years have been great – we’ve had a lot of fun,” he said. “We’ve all made friends that we will keep for the rest of our lives. Also, we have had great teachers and parents that have shaped us into individuals that will go into the world and take it by the horns and become very successful …
“I would just like to thank my class for making my four years the best they could be. Thank you, class of 2010 – good luck in the future and see you at the 10-year reunion”
The RHHS Senior Chorus led the school’s alma mater, and then the Wildcat Band performed “Procession of the Nobles” as the graduating class exited the auditorium. Other special music was provided throughout the ceremony by Jordan Balke and Jenna Tucker; Omaira Layne; and Miranda Cooper, Kyle Forbes and Esther Shim.
In an e-mail to members of the Bryan County Board of Education, county schools superintendent John Oliver thanked everyone involved with graduations at both RHHS and Bryan County High School for a job well done.
“It is so encouraging to see our seniors take the lead in the exercises and do such a fine job with it,” he wrote. “I think it is just one indication of how much they have grown and how ready they are to meet their next challenges.The ceremonies went very well and still maintained some of the dignity that we believe should be associated with graduations.”

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