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Newton High graduates more than 500
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COVINGTON — Members of the graduating class of 2021 at Newton High School were encouraged Thursday night to continue to model the Rams motto as they move forward in life — Be Respectful, Accountable, Motivated and Successful.

More than 500 seniors, including 134 honor graduates, gathered on the field at Sharp Stadium for commencement ceremonies, wearing blue caps and gowns and white stoles. Senior class President Nashara Baldwin welcomed fellow graduates and congratulated them on completing their senior year during a difficult time. She challenged them to continue to persevere as they move into the next phase of their lives.

“Be persistent, relentless and confident in pursuing your dreams,” she said.

Principal Dr. Shannon Buff praised the class for accepting a challenge she issued at the beginning of the year to exceed the amount of scholarships offered to the prior year’s class. Buff said the Class of 2021 did just that, accumulating $27 million in HOPE, academic and athletic scholarship offers compared to $22 million the year before.

Valedictorian Nathaniel Nash acknowledged the challenges that he and his classmates faced during their senior year and said they should build on that experience for the future.

“Our futures aren’t guaranteed, and that is why it is up to us to live each up and coming day with the passion to make it our best,” he said. “If we could graduate during a pandemic, then there is nothing the future has to offer that we cannot adapt. There is no stopping the Class of 2021.”

Dr. Buff presented several special awards during the ceremony. The Atlanta Journal Constitution Cup, awarded to the best all-around student, went to Terrence Fagan. The C.J. Tinsley Good Samaritan Award was presented to Jermaine Plunkett, and the Principal’s Triumph Award was awarded to Ty’liyah Hardeman.

Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey called on graduates to focus on the word “inspire” as they embrace life after high school.

“The world awaits you, Class of 2021,” said Fuhrey. “Through your actions and deeds, inspire the changes you want to see. Be grateful and selfless. We can all use a lot more of both in our lives, and it will inspire others to follow your lead. Be kind and forgiving. Your actions will be far-reaching, and you just never know the impact your actions might have on someone else. Be courageous in all that you do, and stand for that which is right, even if you must stand alone. Make good choices designed to make things better. Use your voice, talents and gifts to leave an indelible mark on your community, state, nation and world to inspire action. You achieved incredible success, so don’t stop now.”

Eastside Eagles celebrate excellence
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COVINGTON — Eastside High School’s Class of 2021 celebrated its final “Great Day to be an Eagle” Friday night as graduates accepted their diplomas, turned their tassels and headed toward the future.

Valedictorian Joyce Li reminded fellow graduates of the trials they faced over the course of their last year in high school — both those who attended classes virtually and those who attended in person. She also acknowledged the challenges teachers endured during the unusual circumstances brought on by a global pandemic.

Li encouraged her classmates to treasure the human connections they have made during high school as they take different paths in life.

“As we spread our wings and fly off for better things in life, I hope you can learn to cherish the fond memories that we have received from Eastside,” said Li. “This not our peak but rather just our beginning. Go out. Do great things. And make our alma mater proud. And remember, it’s always a great day to be an Eagle.”

Salutatorian Cason Kauffmann also touched on the importance of the relationships students formed at Eastside. In times of trouble, Kauffmann said students should look back on the strong friendships they forged over the past four years.

“Every single one of us has needed someone before to lean on when life has felt too hard to bear, and the future will be no different,” he said. “Try to keep in touch with those you have befriended here, because they may need you as much as you once needed them.”

Eastside Principal Jeff Cher said graduates should consider the fleeting nature of life, which “promises both good times and bad, ease and adversity, peace and conflict, but this one moment right now in time unites you as the Class of 2021.

“From here you will travel different courses, and when you stumble and fall in the future, never forget there is a community surrounding you, here to support you and encourage you to get yourself back up,” said Cher. “And when you achieve and succeed, never forget that there is a community surrounding you to cheer and celebrate victory. You have achieved the legacy that Eastside Graduates Excellence.”

Eastside’s Class of 2021 earned more than $9 million in scholarships. Of the approximately 300 graduates in the class, 285 followed one or more specialty pathways, 100 were named honor graduates, and many earned college credit. In addition, Eastside was named an AP Honor School all four years of their high school careers.

Determination, resilience mark the Alcovy High School Class of 2021
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COVINGTON — Determination and resilience are the qualities that mark the Alcovy High School Class of 2021, according to Alcovy High Principal Dr. Kristopher Williams.

During his remarks to the graduates and their families and friends at their graduation June 5 at Sharp Stadium, Williams said during a school year filled with pandemic restrictions, the seniors handled the situation with class, dignity and grace.

“You could have become despondent and angry at the situation, but you did not,” he said. “You continued to complete assignments, interact with teachers and classmates, and stayed engaged through social media platforms. The Class of 2021 was able to demonstrate that no hurdle is too high or obstacle too big for them to achieve their goals and move forward.”

The graduation began with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Faith Kamau, and a welcome from Morgan Hathorn.

During his salutatorian address, Brennan Reilly thanked God, family and friends, and teachers and administrators for their support, and called the year wonderful, weird and unimaginable.

“Regardless of how we may describe all our shared experiences as the Class of 2021, tonight marks the summation of such experiences,” he told his classmates. “Tonight, may we reflect on the past with thankfulness.” He added that they now need to ask themselves, “for what and for whom are we living?”

Logan Dobar and Natalia Sanchez were co-valedictorians for the Class of 2021.

Dobar said given that they succeeded even in grim times, they are capable of even more awe-inspiring feats.

“No matter what pursuits we might set ourselves upon, a love of learning and perseverance will see us through,” he said. “We have what it takes to accomplish anything. Whether it is discovery, creation, public service, or anything else we wish to see through, we are capable of thriving. We have the capacity to do amazing things. May fortune favor us.”

Sanchez told her classmates they have overcome the most strange and stressful time of this century and should remember that they can endure much more than they think.

“So, as we embark on our new journey filled with fears and apprehensions, remember you can get through it,” she said. “Remember you are much more brave and strong than you think. Remember that you are the author of your story. So make sure it’s inspiring and more powerful than the stories of those who came before you. Make your life count! Make your presence known! Make a mark on the world for the better!’

Of the 391 members of the Class of 2021, 74 were graduates of the Newton College and Career Academy (NCCA). Chad Walker, CEO/Principal of NCCA, told his seniors he can never repay them for all that they have done, especially over the past year and a half with the pandemic.

“Tonight, I thank you,” he said. “Thank you for believing in this program by showing your trainers and your fellow associates what true grit and determination look like. You made NCCA a special place.”

Williams said the Class of 2021 set the standard at Alcovy for many years to come. To date, class members have been accepted by 98 different colleges, 135 students have earned the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships, and students have earned a total of $8.5 million in scholarships.

Williams also presented three special awards:

♦ ROAR Award — Tyler Dorsey

♦ Principal’s Award — Carolina Cantero-Cardona

♦ Atlanta Journal-Constitution Cup — Cameron White

Newton County Schools Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey told the class that everyone present is inspired by them.

“We have witnessed you rise above the turmoil and challenges you encountered this school year,” she said. “You’ve worked hard since you were 4 years old to reach graduation, and you certainly were not going to allow anything to interfere with this very moment. You have volunteered your time serving others, reached stellar academic achievements, participated in extracurricular activities and earned millions of dollars in scholarships. You have leaned in and committed to getting the job done, in spite of the hurdles you faced. The world awaits you, Class of 2021.”

Conyers to sell property along Salem Road
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CONYERS — Two parcels of land owned by the city of Conyers but lying outside the city limits will be sold following a vote last week by the City Council.

The council voted 4-1, with Connie Alsobrook opposed, to declare the undeveloped tracts surplus so they can be sold. The two parcels, one totaling 6.25 acres and the other 8.37 acres, are adjacent to one another and are bordered by Salem Road, Westridge Drive and the back yards of homes that face Avondale Drive.

According to the Rockdale County Tax Assessor’s website, the smaller tract has a tax value of $281,200 and the larger is valued at $328,100.

The properties, which were donated to the city in 2016 by Fieldstone Golf Club LLC, are zoned mixed use/conservation subdivision. According to the city, several developers have already contacted the city about purchasing the properties.