CONYERS — The graduates of Heritage High School walked across the stage and entered the next phase of their lives in a joyous ceremony Friday at Evans Stadium.

The seniors—128 of them honor graduates—said goodbye to high school on a very hot Friday evening as many of their friends, family and assorted well-wishers cheered them on. Many of those friends and family sported shirts identifying their graduate, who had just completed 13 years of work.

Before they walked across the stage, turned their tassels, threw their caps in the air and picked up their diplomas at the bus loop at Heritage High, the graduating class of 2019 heard inspirational words from the top two students in the class – Valedictorian Maya Davis and Salutatorian Sydney Gaylor.

“As we approach the end of our careers as high school students, we have the immense opportunity to take on the world, pursue our passions and make steps towards leaving a legacy,” Davis said. “Wilma Rudolph and also Channing Tatum once said, ‘Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit.’”

Davis said the strength of the 2019 senior class was the relationships its members built between each other and with others.

“Our time together as a senior class will not be remembered by popularity, grades or followers, but by the relationships we have cultivated these past four years,” Davis said.

Gaylor, who apologized in advance if she got a little “teary,” emphasized the people and the moments who helped build the class of 2019 into the people they are today.

“I want to take a few minutes to think back what brought you here today,” Gaylor said. “Your first kindergarten teacher, the job as a princess or professional dinosaur you wanted, the first book you ever remember reading, the time you got silent lunch, the note written home to your parents because you colored outside the lines — true story — your earliest best friends, your favorite teachers, the first test you failed, the first one you aced, that class you hated and the classes you loved. So often, we think to tomorrow, usually in the context of asking if we have homework, so take now to reflect.”

According to LaTonya Richards, Heritage High School principal, the graduating class, the largest in the school’s history, has earned a total exceeding $6 million in academic and athletic scholarships.

Students from the Class of 2019 will attend a variety of schools across Georgia, as well as schools all over the region, while other students will join the U.S. Armed Forces upon graduation.

“This year was a stellar example of how students balanced academics and extra-curricular pursuits,” Richards said.

According to Richards, six Heritage athletic teams won region championships. The Heritage baseball team won its first state championship on Thursday. The class’s production of August Wilson’s “Fences” won the state one-act play championship.

A native of Hampton, Ga., Joe Adgie has been working in newspapers since 2014. He joined the Rockdale/Newton Citizen in July 2017.

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