ALBANY, Ga. -- The mood of Sherwood Christian Academy's graduating Class of 2013 swung between nervousness and downright giddiness Friday evening as they waited to make the short walk from a nearby chapel to Sherwood Baptist Church's Worship Center.
Some of the class of 25 seniors had been together for 12 years, and most for the four years at Sherwood's upper campus.
Friday night, they walked together to later go their separate ways.
"I feel nervous, proud and sad all at the same time," Diamond Clarke said. "I don't want to leave my friends, but it's an amazing feeling. We stayed close to everyone and no one was judgmental. We remained God-like and joyful to everyone.
"Now, I plan going to Darton (State College) for a year and transfer to Georgia, where I plan on majoring in pre-med. It's a little overwhelming."
Jacob Rodriguez also had mixed emotions.
"I'm a little nervous, excited but really ready to graduate." he said. "What I learned over the past four years here is that I can depend on my friends to always have my back."
Rodriguez plans to attend Darton and major in nursing.
Chandler Tabb was short and to the point.
"I'm a little emotional, but more than ready to graduate, emotional or not," said Tabb. "SCA taught me how to take on responsibility like a man."
Tabb also will attend Darton, where he plans to become a physical therapist and to participate in cross-country.
"I am ready to graduate and get out of here," Kristen Lane said. "I have great friends and family here, but it's time to move on."
She plans to attend Darton and become a registered nurse.
Sherwood Pastor Michael Katt opened the commencement with an encouraging word to the parents of the the graduates.
"I think 15 years from now you will be able to look at your children and think about the the education they received here and realize we took no detours, we chose the right path and my children are living the dream," Katt said.
Graduation speaker Brian Simmons, the president of the Association of Christian Schools International, urged the graduates to take a message of stewardship with them.
"Everything that happens to you is a gift from God," Simmons said. "It begins and ends with stewardship. Hold something in trust for yourself, but also give it to others. Life is short and never forget your 'YOU-niqueness.'"