COVINGTON — Eastside’s Class of 2019 sat together one last time at their graduation ceremony at Springfield Baptist Church Saturday afternoon.

The class of 298 seniors collected more than $9 million in sports and academic scholarships.

Commencement speakers including Principal Jeff Cher, NCCA Director Chad Walker and NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey took the podium to express their pride and gratitude to the graduates and their families.

The sanctuary took a moment of silence in memory of two lost Eagles, including senior William Hood who was killed in an automobile accident in September 2018 and Eastside Basketball Coach Brent Wren, who lost his battle with stomach cancer earlier this month.

On a happier note, Fuhrey told the students two things: “To always ask questions and listen to your parents.”

Before walking across the stage, Eastside’s salutatorian and valedictorian took a moment to also commend the class on their academic achievements.

“The definition of victory is ‘an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in battle, game, or other competition,’” said Salutatorian Lillian Fowler. “I believe in our lives we have many types of battles. The battle can be a test, a sports game, or a sickness. It could be obtaining a degree, forming relationships, or losing a loved one. It is our own destiny to obtain victory and as Vince Lombardi stated, ‘Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.’ We will not always win, but we have to try our best to win and be successful. After we finish here today, we have a whole life of winning and losing ahead. It is how we deal with each trial that comes our way that is most important. I pray we all have the strength, courage, and support of others to conquer each battle ahead.”

In bringing the ceremonies to a close, valedictorian Katlyn Williams reminded seniors of one simple thing that principal Cher reminded them throughout their entire high school career.

“Freshman year, at our very first Mr. Cher-special-motivational-Acadex meeting, I thought that when he told us that Eastside graduated excellence, it meant solely that Eastside graduated smart people,” said Williams. “And as I stand in front of the class of 2019, I know that while that is in fact true, it does not even begin to tell the whole story. Eastside doesn’t just graduate ‘smart people.’ It graduates kind, athletic, unique, motivated, world-changing students. Excellence is defined as the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. According to that definition, as I’m sure you would all agree, Eastside doesn’t just graduate excellence. It is excellent. Eastside is filled with some of the most outstanding faculty, staff, and teachers that you will ever come by. So before you all leave this place behind, I encourage you to thank those who have poured into us and taught us much more than just their subject.”

Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.

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