As Luther Welsh battled for his 300th win at Washington Wilkes last year, Jonny Weischedel was one of his soldiers on the field.
But there was another solider in the stands that night that had Jonny's attention. His father, David Bowen, was there to see the game. It was of the few times Mr. Bowen was able to share his son's senior year - the military man spent most of the school year overseas, fighting for our freedom in Iraq.
It was a subject Jonny wrote about in the Laws of Life essay contest. He choked up - along with part of the audience - as he read the essay to members of the Thomson Rotary Club in late March. He recounted the discussions with his family, and the emotional discussions he had with his dad. In a raspy, emotional voice, Jonny announced at the Rotary meeting that his father would be home soon.
And that's just what happened.
His dad was there for Jonny's senior prom.
He was there Saturday night for graduation.
And he'll be there as Jonny moves to the next phase of his life.
After all, that's what good soldiers do.
But graduation wasn't just a new beginning for Thomson High School's senior class. As they walked across the stage in the Brickyard, Kristopher Wells' tenure at The McDuffie Mirror came to an end.
He's taking a job in public relations at our alma mater, Augusta State University, starting in a few days. It's a great career move for him, but it is so much more.
In what is admittedly a "do as I say not as I do" edict, I always encourage the people at The Mirror to put their families ahead of the newspaper. It's not always practical, not always possible, but it is always something I want them to strive for.
This time, Kristopher did just that. It's the right decision for him, Priscilla and the little Wells that will become part of McDuffie County later this year.
As he moves on, I'd like to offer a little advice:
What you do is not who you are.
Your integrity is your most valuable asset.
And, most importantly, there's a fine line between doing what you love and loving what you do.
Kristopher has been a valuable part of our success here at The Mirror. He's been a friend to McDuffie County, to Thomson and especially to his beloved Dearing.
To me, he's been a sounding board, an advisor, a workhorse - and, in pre-Mirror times - a groomsman.
But most of all, he's been a good friend.
And, for that, I will be forever grateful.