Dougherty High students, from left, Keyshante Singleton, Portrait Smith, and Sedricka Smith applaud during commencement exercises.
ALBANY, Ga. -- More than 750 Dougherty County School System seniors picked up diplomas during a long day of back-to back commencement exercises at the Albany Civic Center.
Westover graduated 309, Monroe 164, Albany 136 and Dougherty 130 in a day that began at nine that morning and ended after 6 p.m.
As the oldest high school in the county, Albany started the day with its 126th overall commencement with valedictorian Chelsea Fitzhugh lauding her fellow seniors.
“My purpose here today is not about me, but rather about all of us and what we have the potential to do now. Today marks the beginning of the rest of our lives.
Fitzhugh then evoked the spirit of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs by saying, “Remember life is doing what it takes to make you happy. Reach for your dreams and follow your passion.”
Classmate Tessa King then advised her classmates that “we are hear to experience one of the best moments of our lives. This is a bittersweet moment for me because we are family and the love we hold for each other will comfort us as we take the next step in our lives.”
Westover then took over the Civic Center with fourth-year Principal William Chunn doing a little chest-thumping of his senior class.
“This is my fourth class as principal at the ‘University of Westover,’ and it is my best class, and it is also my favorite,” Chunn said. “There are 70 honors graduates sitting behind me and I was taught to always look for the good in people and I found it in this senior class, the Class of 2012.
“It has been an honor to be your principal.”
Chunn added that he had just learned that Tyler Clenney and Ellen Roberts had just been named Georgia Scholars for 2012.
“There are 90,000 seniors across Georgia competing for that honor, and we have two of them,” Chunn said.
Senior Ashley Robinson said she appreciated her time at the school.
“I have learned maturity, dedication, integrity and confidence,” Robinson said. “The last 13 years have seen some good times and some bad times. But tomorrow will bring a new day and a new life.”
Monroe was next and class valedictorian Camille Floyd, like her fellow seniors before her, lauded her classmates.
We have graduates who have attracted the attention of colleges and universities all across the nation,” Floyd said. “We at Monroe are proud of our successes, but it’s not something that has happened by chance.
“This is our time and out there our destiny awaits.”
Dougherty then closed the day’s exercises.
“Today we are being recognized for putting in 12 years of hard work to get here,” Dougherty valedictorian Alesha Thomas said. “Our lives can be compared to a song with many different layers. Looking back over the past four years, I can see the mistakes I’ve made. Everyone is different and we all have special abilities waiting to be used.”