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Dawson County High Class of 2016 graduates
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Valedictorian Sarah Tinsley and Salutatorian Dana Little lead the procession of graduates into Tiger Stadium on Saturday after a rain delay. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

After four years of hard work, practice and preparation, the graduating class at Dawson County High School had to wait a little longer to commence on Saturday morning due to weather.

There were discussions throughout the week about whether the weather would hold out for the Class of 2016 to graduate as scheduled at 8:30 a.m. at Tigers Stadium or if the ceremony would have to move indoors.

Though the rain came, the seniors held out those extra 40 minutes or so to become graduates.

"It's OK to not know everything," said salutatorian Dana Little while addressing her classmates and it seemed a fitting acknowledgement on a day when parents, students, family and friends waited in cars and in hallways of the high school to see if the weather would cooperate.

After the delay, faculty and board members helped empty water out of overturned chairs, while students lined up for the procession into the packed stadium.

The May 21 graduation saw 245 students receive diplomas, 84 of which were honor graduates.

Counselor Marjorie Poss announced that the graduating class had received more than $300,000 in scholarships.

Valedictorian Sarah Tinsley and Little both spoke highly of their time at the school, as well as of their classmates and what they had meant to them.

Tinsley said that the encouragement of her classmates had reminded her that she is not alone on this journey and gave credit to God.

"I owe all that I am and all that I have accomplished to God and I am so thankful that during my freshman year of high school, I accepted Christ as my personal savior," Tinsley said.

She encouraged classmates to plant seeds and work to help others quoting Aesop, "No act of kindess, however small, is ever wasted."

Little reiterated her point that it is OK to not know everything.

"But the things we really want to know are the things that we can't look up-like the reason for our existence or what sort of impact we will have on the world," Little said.

"The truth is, nobody knows what the future holds, whether it's tomorrow or 10 years from now, and really, that's OK. After all, life is full of mysteries and the unknown is what keeps us searching for more," she said.

Superintendent Damon Gibbs elicited screams from the crowd by literally asking everyone to scream. He then promised that his remarks would be brief and not nearly as profound as those of Tinsley and Little.

Gibbs reflected on the last four years and what has changed in society, as well as what students can expect for the future.

"Tomorrow will certainly be different than today...the decisions that you make today will impact the rest of your life. So listen more than you speak, laugh every day, make time for family and only worry about the things that you can control," he said.

He also encouraged students to take chances and that it is OK to fall.

Before the students would each cross the stage to receive their diploma and turn their tassels, he also told them he was proud.

"Mr. Crumley, I certify that these students have met all standards for graduation as required by the Dawson County Board of Education and the state of Georgia. It is at this time with enthusiasm and confidence that I release to you the diplomas for DCHS, the finest high school in the great state of Georgia, for 2016."

Full transcripts of the Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches can be found online at