COVINGTON — Newton High School’s 2019 Class President Carly McBryde affirmed during Saturday’s commencement exercises that her 560-plus fellow graduates are “ready for anything and everything.”

“Do not lose yourself in the making, you are chivalrous, you are resilient and never forget that,” said McBryde. “Don’t be afraid to fail. It takes trial and error to succeed, but that’s OK because we are Rams, and Rams Rise.”

Principal Shannon Buff also announced that the class broke the record of earning more than $21.7 million in academic, athletic and military scholarships. Buff celebrated her graduates and pronounced her love and support for them just as they have done for her.

“I am honored and humbled to stand before you,” said Buff. “You stepped up when others sat idly by. I look out and I see a class that has raised more money for charity than any other class. I see brilliance and scholars, I see a class full of dedication, and I see a class when their principal was diagnosed with cancer, you rallied behind me and loved me and your support was immeasurable. You touched my heart and my life, and I will forever be grateful.”

Buff handed out four Principal Awards including the Leadership Award and two Triumph Awards.

Newton County Career Academy Director Chad Walker and NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey were also present to honor graduates.

Just before calling names, Newton Salutatorian Jordyn Greenwood also commended her classmates for all their accomplishments.

“This is a victory for all of us, graduating high school, and don’t let anyone tell you different,” said Greenwood. “Let people say ‘you barely graduated’ because —guess what—at the end of the day you still got your diploma. Be sure to remain gracious and to thank your support system and God, or whoever you believe if you believe at all. This is our moment where all of the late nights and the days of doing homework in the bleachers during track meets are all worth it. We can now wear our headphones freely and are no longer subjected to the dress code or needing a pass to go to the restroom... I leave you with the last words my AP computer science teacher, Coach Terrance Banks, said to me the last day of third period: ‘Never drink and drive or get in the car with anyone that is drunk; car accidents kill more teenagers than anything else. Never swim alone, you may catch a cramp and no one will be there to save you. Love your providers. Child services are just one phone call away.’ Congratulations, class of 2019!”

With the crowd on the edge of their seats valedictorian Joy Sharp wrapped up the ceremony.

“We may have started out as Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers like ‘Islands in the Stream,’ but with each passing grade, as we grew older, we learned ‘to hold on to our dreams,’ to nurture them and to cultivate them,” said Sharp. “While we may all have different dreams and paths that may change, we must continue on. The Rascals told us in song, ‘It’s a beautiful morning, I think I’ll go outside for a while’ but reality set in, and though they may have sung it in a song, not all of our mornings were beautiful. Especially if you took AP classes, it was more like ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by The Bee Gees. From failing Mr. Kim’s essay, memorizing all 45 presidents for Ms. Meakins or trying to pass Mr. Williams’ tests, high school, as well as life, will sometimes present ‘Hard Times.’ We all at some point joked about dropping out. But Run DMC said it best: ‘Hard times spreading just like the flu. Watch out homeboy, don’t let it catch you,’ Yes, we have all been there and done that. We have all had something that tried to hold us back. But we all have kept pushing and learned to do what it takes to get it done, even if it took a ‘Couple of Forevers’ like Chrisette Michele crooned. We did it, and we made it!”

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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