WARRENTON - It marked the culmination of another year, as graduates marched onto the red carpet to receive their diplomas during a special ceremony in the gym of Warren County High School last Saturday morning.
It meant the closure of another chapter in their lives - one that was heralded with academic accomplishments in the classroom, as well as in athletics and other extra curricular activities.
In her salutatory remarks to a packed gym of graduates, educators, parents, grandparents and others, Cedrica Bacon said she first would like to honor God - the head of her life.
"I am thrilled, blessed and honored to be here as the 2009 salutatorian," said Cedrica. "My time here, as a student, has been outstanding."
She talked about hope.
"Growing up in a Pentecostal Church pastored by my grandfather, I have been taught that hope comes from remembering all that God has done for us," said Cedrica. "Regardless of what situations we find ourselves in, we must remember that our hope is in God and not in things or people. If we remember this and the fact that God will never fail us and to keep Him first, then hope can take us virtually anywhere we desire."
Miss Bacon also reminded fellow classmates of what the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said about hope.
"'If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving; you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all,"' said Miss Bacon, quoting Dr. King.
In closing, Miss Bacon said through faith, hope and love from parents, teachers and others "our time in the Warren County School System has given us more than just an education. Warren County schools have presented us with challenges, responsibilities and opportunities. What we have learned here will help determine how we approach our future."
Valedictorian Crystal Gillom told fellow graduates that it is vital for them to remember to believe in themselves.
"As long as you believe you can, you will have a reason for trying," said Miss Gillom. "Everyone faces challenges and difficulties in life. Remember your challenges didn't come to stay; they came to pass."
She also thanked the teachers and others that influenced her life along her educational journey the last 13 years.
"May God hold you in the hollow of His hand and if we should become emotionally exhausted as we enter into this new chapter of our life, the words of Isaiah 40:27-29 provide great encouragement. The Lord never grows tired. Instead, He gives power to the weak and to those who have no might, He increases strength."
Warren County High School Principal Ja'net Bishop greeted the graduates with congratulations on their outstanding achievement in the classroom.
"For many of you, today seemed like a distant dream when you began your coursework years ago," said Dr. Bishop. "Your concerns were many. Getting to know your teachers, attending school regularly and of course, passing the Georgia High School Graduation Test. This day marks the end of one phase of your life and the beginning of another. I am glad to be among the first to congratulate you.
"You have worked hard for your diploma and I know that the education you received from Warren County High School will provide you with an academic foundation that will prepare you for your future endeavors."
She informed the graduates that they were graduating at a time when the school is expanding beyond its regional boundaries and local reputation of excellence.
"The future for Warren County High School continues to excel," said Dr. Bishop. "You have added to this reputation and I thank you. We want to keep Warren County High School strong and progressive with a commitment to constant improvement in accord with our theme of hope and pride - hopefulness for the future and pride in what we've accomplished."