In a parade of red and white 90 graduates of Bryan County High School followed in the footsteps of thousands of Redskins alumni as they crossed the stage in BCHS’s gymnasium on Saturday to receive their high school diplomas.
Honor graduate Melanie Smith welcomed the jammed pack crowd in the gym to the day of celebration. Smith then led the graduates, family, friends, school administrators, faculty, and staff in the pledge of allegiance.
During the morning speeches many of the honor students referred to two of their missing classmates, Melissa Arthur and Laura Cobb, whom were killed in a car crash last year.
"We have made it through some great times and some tough times," said Melanie Smith. "We have all experienced great personal tragedy and achievements together."
The mood overall was celebratory, as the excitement for their achievement electrified the air. Brief opening remarks by honor graduate Jennifer Waters and a musical selection by fellow honor graduate Mitzi Cross gave way to BCHS’s 2008 Salutatorian Ana Nicole King. King gave an inspirational speech to her classmates.
"No matter where we are, where we are going, what we are achieving we must remember success doesn’t come easy," said King.
King is the daughter of Angela Manton of Ellabell and Richard King of Gaylesville, Ala. Her grade point average was 94.150 and she is a member of the student council, National Honors Society, a Governor’s Honors nominee and a member of the Redskins Marching Band. She plans to attend Georgia Highlands College in Rome for two years and then transfer to North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega. King plans on being a biology/ pre-med major.
Anna Leigh Smith, the 2008 Valedictorian challenged her classmates to always reach for their personal best while addressing the crowd.
"We finally made it. In life achieve for excellence and not perfection in other words we cannot try to make things perfect because nothing every will be," said Smith. "We must compete only with ourselves and not some idol of perfection. Strive for excellence in life not perfection."
Smith is the youngest daughter of Rick and Sharon Smith of Black Creek. She will be attending the University of Georgia in Athens in the fall, where she is considering pursuing environmental science. Her grade point average was 97.394. During her high school career Smith was a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions, the Beat Club, and the Redskins Marching Band.
"I am so proud of Anna," said her father Rick. "She is a wonderful person, who works hard and makes me prouder each day."
As graduates filed out of the gym to the open arms of congratulatory parents, friends and loved ones caps flew, mothers cried tears of joy and grads jump with glee.
"One of my life’s goals was achieved today," said Betty Hill of Pembroke. "I wanted both of my children to graduate from high school at the same high school I did, with the same group of kids they went to Pre-K with. Today Kelsey achieved that."
Hill is the mother of 2008 graduate, Kelsey Hill. Kelsey is the youngest daughter of Betty and Albert.