Oconee graduates celebrate success, look to the future

Oconee County High School and North Oconee High School graduates celebrated accomplishments and looked to the future during a pair of commencement ceremonies at the University of Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum on Friday.

 

“The Class of 2017 has been excellent inside and outside of the classroom,” said Oconee County High School Principal Ben Wiggins, listing two National Merit Finalists, a UGA Foundation Fellow and several other academic, athletic and artistic accomplishments as evidence of the OCHS seniors’ successes.


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Salutatorian Kelton McConnell encouraged his 264 classmates not to become complacent with this success.

“Try harder than you did yesterday and even harder than the day before,” he said. “Life won’t just give you lemons for lemonade. It will put the lemons at the top of the tree and make you climb for them.”

OCHS Valedictorian Xiaoyao Gao reminded her Warrior classmates they have the power to decide their future.

“Real heroes are not the ones who wear underwear on the outside of their pants,” she said. “We are human, but we are not powerless…Each one of you are the heroes of your own stories.”

North Oconee graduates echoed these sentiments in their addresses to their peers.

“This is only the beginning. It’s OK to be scared,” said North Oconee Senior Class President Raneem Rizvi. “Harry Potter didn’t know what he was doing for the entire series, and he still managed to defeat Voldemort.”

NOHS Salutatorian Daniel Smith made sure to credit the faculty and family members that supported the graduates throughout their school years.

“We would not be crossing this stage without their guidance,” he said.

He added that it was time for his 291 Titan classmates to leave the safety of the nest.

“Those who are willing to take great leaps are bound to do great things,” Smith said.

Afahse Mafomeh Poteh, NOHS’s valedictorian, encouraged her fellow graduates to never stop learning.

“We have something to learn from everyone and every situation,” she said.

In the midst of the celebration, North Oconee Principal Dr. Phillip Brown reminded his former students not to forget to stop and smell the roses.

“Life is about these moments — moments on the way to where you’re traveling,” he said. “Don’t get so lost in your plans for the future that you miss these moments.”

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