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PHOTOS: Dawson County High School celebrates Class of 2023
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DCHS graduates throw their caps in the air at the end of the Class of 2023 graduation ceremony on May 19. - photo by Erica Jones

On the evening of Friday May 19, Dawson County High School students, families and administration gathered under the lights on the school’s football field to take part in the official graduation ceremony for the Class of 2023. 

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DCHS graduating seniors celebrate after receiving their diplomas during the Class of 2023 graduation ceremony on May 19. - photo by Erica Jones

The ceremony featured remarks from members of the Class of 2023, as well as DCHS Principal Michael Negley and Superintendent Nicole LeCave. 

During her address, Negley listed off some of the many accomplishments that members of the DCHS Class of 2023 are graduating with. 

“Class of 2023, you are outstanding,” Negley said. “Over the course of your high school careers, you have accumulated approximately 6,000 hours of community service. You’ve already taken over 230 college courses via dual enrollment and AP courses, you’ve performed some of the most amazing pieces and plays.”

In the Class of 2023’s senior year alone, Negley went on to say, 13 DCHS athletic teams made state playoff appearances and the high school won two region titles. Six members of the Class of 2023 are graduating a whole year early, and graduates have earned over $700,000 in local scholarships. 

“As you stand at the beginning of the next chapter of your lives, remember that the world is waiting for your unique talents, skills and perspectives,” Negley said to the graduating seniors. “Embrace the challenges that lie ahead, for they will be the building blocks of your success.” 

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Dawson County Schools Superintendent Nicole LeCave speaks during the Class of 2023 graduation ceremony on May 19. - photo by Erica Jones

LeCave also congratulated the Class of 2023 on their many accomplishments during her superintendent’s address. 

“Graduates, I want to thank you for the contributions you have made to our school system,” LeCave said. “By taking pride in being a Tiger you have brought honor to us in many ways; we are so very proud of you.” 

LeCave commended the Class of 2023 for their kindness, not only to each other but to those around them. 

“Our principal Mrs. Negley shared with me that she was most proud of the compassion and kindness this class has shown each other,” LeCave said. “Seniors, I encourage you to hold onto those qualities, compassion and kindness, for as you move through life you will be remembered for your character and how you treat others.” 

She encouraged the graduating seniors to continue letting this kindness be their legacy as they move on to whatever is next for each of them after high school. 

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DCHS graduates celebrate as fireworks go off in the background at the end of the Class of 2023 graduation ceremony on May 19. (Photo by Will Jones)

“There are 1,440 minutes in every day; that means you have 1,440 opportunities to be a blessing to others by simply taking time to say thank you, lending a helping hand, giving a compliment, a hug or just sharing your smile,” LeCave said. “The world needs more of this; do the little things, your life looks better for it.” 

The ceremony also included salutatorian and valedictorian addresses by two graduating seniors. This year’s salutatorian was Riley Barfield, and this year’s valedictorian was Ben Hodge. 

During her salutatorian address, Barfield recounted coming to Dawson County High School the summer before her junior year and at first feeling like she didn’t fit in but gradually making friends and growing to love her school. 

“No matter how many friends I had, how many parties I went to and how many people I talked to, for a time I never felt like I was a part of our class — that is, until this year,” Barfield said. “This year has been one of the best years of my life, from laughing and crying to running around the school causing some mischief. Thank you so much to this class for accepting me and all my weirdness and allowing me to grow and change. Thank you for supporting me, criticizing me, making fun of me, defending me, but most of all for just letting me be me. You didn’t ask me to change, and for once in my life I feel like part of a community — a Tiger community.” 

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DCHS Principal Michael Negley presents diplomas to graduating seniors as they cross the stage during the Class of 2023 graduation ceremony on May 19. - photo by Erica Jones

During his valedictorian address, Hodge encouraged his fellow graduates to continue spending their time and efforts making other people feel like they belong and matter. 

“We do only live once; with this in mind, what should we really do to make the most of it?” Hodge said. “Society is so focused on what I want; but that’s not the right idea. If we truly do only live once, we need to spend that precious time for others, not just ourselves.”

After the members of the Class of 2023 each received their diplomas, the graduation ceremony ended with a fireworks show over the football field as family and friends celebrated with their graduates.