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The themes of live, laugh, love and learn were not lost on Buford High School senior class president Hunter Faile.
Brushing away a few tears, Faile was overwhelmed by the significance of the occasion as she implored her fellow 140 graduates on Friday night to always set their sights high.
“It has been said we must shoot for the stars because even if we miss, we’ll land on the moon,” Faile said. “We never know where life will take us.”
Honor graduates Chesney Lyles, Olivia Stogner and Kristen Melton followed, each stepping to the microphone with hopeful words for the crowd.
Melton urged the BHS class of 2013 to retain to their sense of humor.
“[I hope] you’ve never gone a single day without laughter,” Melton said. “Here’s your last question. Why did the graduates cross the stage? Because the tassel was worth the hassle.”
Stogner hoped the students would keep love in their hearts.
“We all come from different backgrounds and are seeking different futures, but one thing ties us together- love,” Stogner said.
As for Lyles, she said learning doesn’t end once high school comes to a close.
“My dad always told me people can take a lot from you, but no one can take away your education,” Lyles said.
Once the ceremony was over, and the hugs and camera flashes began, senior Candace Garris, 18, stopped to soak in the scene.
“It’s kind of a crazy day, but it’s the most important day of my life. Getting here has taught me to keep on learning,” said Garris, who plans on studying radiology at York Technical College.
As Austin Harris, 18, heads to Tennessee to pursue a degree in diesel mechanics, he is hopeful about the future.
“This is a new beginning, man,” Harris said. “But this place is home. What can I say? It’s emotional. I’m happy, but sad at the same time.”
For Mikeem McKinney, 19, and his mother Wanda, graduation day was a special milestone. McKinney is the last of three siblings to graduate and leave home.
“It’s very, very special for me,” McKinney said.
His mother nodded her head in agreement.
“I am just overwhelmed. It’s bittersweet,” she said. “I’ve been crying since last night.”
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416