As excited graduates crossed the stage of the University of North Georgia Convocation Center last night, history was made as the class of 2019 became the 100th graduating class of Dawson County High School.
The school, which started with five graduates in 1919, has grown to have more than 250 graduates a century later who amassed more than $1.1 million in scholarships, not including 121 HOPE and 24 Zell scholarship recipients.
“As you leave here today, know that you are part of something very special. You are the absolute only 100th graduating class of Dawson County,” Superintendent Damon Gibbs said in his closing remarks.
It was a special night indeed, as the senior class was celebrated for their school achievements and the future that lies ahead for them.
“In controversial opinion, I’m sad it’s over,” Valedictorian Natalie Peulen said. “Gone are the days where we have very few bills and our parents are there to take care of us. Gone are the days where our whole years were planned out for us.”
Though the high schools days are behind them, Puelen said graduation is not the end.
“I don’t believe in the whole ‘this is a new beginning’ or ‘this is the end.’ From here on out we’re going to shape our own lives. This is just a step towards that,” she said.
As the graduates prepare for to take their next step in life, Salutatorian Emma Garrett imparted some advice: go on adventures, try new experiences, take risks and live and learn.
“Failure’s not the end of the world. In fact, it provides us with an opportunity to learn and to grow. The key to failure is to always learn,” Garrett said. “Embrace your failures, learn from them and live every moment to its fullest.”
Gibbs also addressed the graduates with life lessons and encouraged them “don’t be average, be excellent.”
“You will be told that successful people are lucky. Our life is the summation of the choices we make. There are also consequences for those choices, sometimes good and sometimes bad,” Gibbs said. “We will fail and we will surely make mistakes, however just because you fail and someone else succeeds does not make you a victim. You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can always control your reaction. Be proud of your wins and know that luck had nothing to do with it.
“The world does not award participation trophies. There are winners and losers in almost everything. Every winner has had a series of losses and has grown from the experience. You will ask for things in this life that you do not get. Life is not fair and being told no or having to tell yourself no on occasion builds character.”