Thursday evening's procession at Fox Creek High School began with Navalei Adams and Linden Albornoz, wound through salutatorian Carley Guill and valedictorian Matthew McClure, and wrapped up with De'Nieyrah Young and Alex Zeller, as the charter school held its 14th commencement ceremony.
Among the school's top graduates were valedictorian Matthew McClure, who plans to attend Clemson University and major in mechanical engineering; and salutatorian Carley Guill, who is planning to major in nursing at Anderson University.
McClure, in his speech to Thursday's gathering, noted, "Putting in the work and doing things right the first time has always worked. As Aristotle once said, 'The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.'"
He also acknowledged the importance of expressing gratitude for teachers and supportive families and friends. "I send a special 'thank you' to all the students here today that are going into the military to serve our country," he added.
Guill described the charter school as having "the kind of unique environment that creates a bond between those who experience life here."
Looking back at the past four years, she cited "eating lunch in the computer class, taking your phones out in class, having no gym, piling on the stage in Sweetwater for a basketball game and winning region in football."
This year's graduates at the charter school numbered 135. Among those staying close to home is Sara Vaughn, who is planning to study special education at USC Aiken, largely due to a friendship she has developed with a member of the 2018 senior class at North Augusta High School.
She added, "He's a special-needs kid, and we've gone to prom together for the past three years, and he's just really inspired me."
Also keeping things local will be Audrey Bridges, with plans to study education at USCA, possibly en route to work as a first-grade teacher. She recalled having enrolled, in her junior year, in Fox Creek's teacher-cadet program, and developing a passion for work as a teacher.
Heading off into the wild blue yonder will be Terreco Ramage. He is on course to join the Air Force, with basic training to start in September in San Antonio. His first career goal, he said, is something in cybersecurity, and his second choice would be work in electrical engineering.
"There's nothing left to do at Fox Creek except to come back and visit and encourage others," McClure said, addressing Thursday's assembly. "We should be proud that we're graduates of Fox Creek High School. We're people who can contribute to today and tomorrow's world. The world needs a new generation of people who will create, improve upon and will have a positive effect on our world. We are that generation. Let's go now and show the world."
Among this year's top honorees at Fox Creek were Andrew Kennamer (teacher of the year), Candace Furness (professional of the year), Lorenzo Otero (student of the year) and Lisa Thomas (volunteer of the year). The charter school dates back to 2004-05 and primarily serves Edgefield County.