Twenty Aiken County high school seniors were eligible to march at a summer school graduation ceremony at Midland Valley High School on Tuesday – among them Charles Muir from South Aiken High School.

Dressed in his school’s burgundy and gold cap and gown, “I’m feeling great,” Muir said. “I worked hard for this.”

After taking some welding classes at the Aiken County Career and Technology Center, he plans to study that field at Aiken Technical College.

The Career Center instructor, Kevin Rawlins, “is awesome,” Muir said. “He shows you how to do everything you need to become successful.”

Dr. Tim Yarborough, the District’s high school academic officer, as well as Associate Superintendent King Laurence, congratulated the graduates for taking an alternative route that can lead them to post-secondary education opportunities or to the workforce.

“They demonstrated they were not quitters – were not willing to give up,” said Laurence from remarks he gave during the ceremony. “There will always be obstacles and pitfalls in life ... But they could count on somebody who was willing to help them. They showed their ability to persevere.”

Patrick McCauley, an Aiken High graduate, thanked God and his family for being there for him and assisting him in achieving his goals.

“I’m more excited now than anything,” said his mother, Patricia McCauley. “I can’t wait for him to go off to college.”

Ashleigh Van Overstraeten, another South Aiken graduate, spent the past 18 months as a homebound student – a result of some family issues.

“It was difficult, and it cut me off from my classmates,” she said. “But it was a better way to work on my grades, and it gave me a little extra time.”

She plans to attend USC Aiken to study psychology and sociology, with aspirations of getting into social work. She said she is grateful for the support of her father, Charles, who in turn said, “(Ashleigh) has come through everything, and I’m so proud of her.”

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter.

The full graduate list is as follows:

• Aiken High School: James Thomas Markel, Patrick Terrell McCauley

• Midland Valley High School: Avery Rick Atkinson, Jacqueline Victoria Fogg, Anthony Jerome West

• South Aiken High School: Ahkeem Malik Adams, Chelsea Alanea Favors, Kyle Reagan Jenkins, Charles Ryan Muir, Amanda Katherine Steiner, Ashleigh Danielle Van Overstraeten

• North Augusta High School: Samuel James Dunham

• Ridge Spring-Monetta High School: Rashawn Daquan Blacks, Breanna Sue Bodie, Andrew Mitchell McCants, Devin Lee Meyer, John Henry Weathersbee

• Silver Bluff High School: Kurlton George Peter Falconer, Christopher Jordan Foster, Shemia Symone Ryans