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Bryan County celebrates the Class of 2024
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PEMBROKE– For a high school whose football team made a record breaking Final Four appearance in the state playoffs this past fall, hosting a commencement ceremony on a football field Friday night was nothing short of serendipitous. 

Due to inclement weather forecasted for the weekend, officials at Bryan County High School decided to shift graduation a day early to the evening of Friday, May 17th. Early dismissal for BCHS students and faculty took place earlier in the day in order to help accommodate seniors and their families on such short notice. 

But despite the cloudy skies threatening a late downpour, there was no rain on the Redskins’ parade on Friday night. One by one, Bryan County’s Class of 2024–138 students strong–stepped up to receive their diplomas under the iconic floodlights of Redskins Stadium, surrounded by the cheers of family and friends sitting in the surrounding football bleachers. 

In his opening remarks, Principal Russ Winter told seniors to carry with them ‘the spirit of a small town’, and to remember that they have the strong support from the wider Pembroke community to which they belong. 

“Class of 2024, congratulations. Leave here knowing that you have the unwavering support of your small-town family,” said Principal Winters. 

Mr. Bradley Godbee, BCHS teacher, then introduced the salutatorian and Class President Daxwell Carrera, who will be studying finance at the University of Georgia in the fall. 

Godbee cited Carrera’s commitment to both competing on the wrestling team and studying economics–where the student voluntarily completed Godbee’s personal finance curriculum despite not actually being in his class. 

In his speech, Carrera gave thanks to all those in attendance, including teachers, coaches, and classmates. However, he saved a special shoutout for his parents who immigrated to the U.S. from young; Carrera’s mother came from Ecuador to pursue Computer Science in college, and Carrera’s father arrived from Cuba via the Mariel Boatlift. 

Carrera credits his parents with instilling in him the values and motivation to succeed in school, sports, and life. 

“Being a first-generation American in my family, I feel like I am continuing the dreams of my parents the nights they left home,” Carrera said. 

Mrs. Anna Waddell, a BCMHS teacher, then introduced the valedictorian Lauren Caldwell, who will pursue a pre-med track at Georgia Tech in the fall. 

Waddell praised Caldwell’s drive and ambition; Caldwell had aimed to be her graduating class’ valedictorian since middle school, following in the footsteps of her mother, who herself graduated as valedictorian in both high school and college.

Caldwell’s speech touched on the importance of living in the moment as important milestones like graduation are occurring. 

“Instead of having an “I can’t wait” outlook, let us change that phrase to “do you remember?,” Caldwell said.

Julian Nicholson, a senior with the JROTC, led out the JROTC Color Guard who presented the colors. The national anthem was then played out, with the crowd standing and singing along. 

Senior Class Vice President Elijah Westcott gave the welcoming address and Alexis Clark, Senior Class Secretary, recognized special guests which was followed by the singing of the alma mater. 

Assistant principal Cliff Kicklighter and faculty member Dr. Jessica McBride presented the graduates and Dr. Paul Brookshire, the Superintendent of Bryan County Schools, conferred the awarding of diplomas.  

Honor Graduates

  • Lauren Caldwell (V)

  • Daxwell Carrera (S)

  • Shavonne Bacon

  • Jake Brown

  • Austin Clemons

  • Sarah Conner 

  • Carlin Covington

  • Tanner Ennis

  • Amber Gray 

  • Luke Hannah 

  • Lacey Holcombe

  • Michael Jones Jr.

  • Evan Knight

  • Skylar Lee

  • Victoria Lord

  • Matthew Simmons

  • Joshua Skelton

  • Nelson Sosa Jr.


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