COVINGTON -- Newton County honored its top students and teachers Monday night.
At Alcovy High School, the Rotary Club of Covington held its 45th annual reception celebrating the Top 10 graduating seniors at each of the county's high schools. Rotarians Jim Purcell and then-Newton County school Superintendent Whit Richardson began the recognition program in 1965.
"We are honored by the presence of these outstanding students," said Alice Queen, president of the Rotary Club of Covington.
Rotarians, school principals and Newton County School System Superintendent Steven Whatley honored each of the 30 students by calling them onto the stage and presenting them with a framed certificate. They also recognized teachers selected by the students as their top teachers.
"We wish you the very best," Whatley said.
He told the students -- whom he pegged as the i-generation, those born after the 1990s and known for being technologically savvy -- to be ready for anything after they graduate from high school.
"You will face a very changing world," he said. "Our concern is that you be ready to step up to positions that you are being groomed for as achievers and leaders."
He advised them to be cautious and responsible in whatever endeavors they pursue next -- attending a university or technical college, enrolling in the military or heading into the work force.
"We would hope you are prepared and you make the right choices," he said. "You will be challenged all along the way, facing decisions you never had to make before on your own."
Queen also gave students some advice that could carry a double meaning in Georgia.
"Please don't lose HOPE," she said.
In addition to thanking teachers, administrators and parents, the Rotary Club also took some time to thank Whatley, a Rotarian and past president of the club, who after more than 20 years in NCSS is retiring at the end of the school year.
"I know of no one else who has given so much hard work and so much of their heart to the education of the children in this community," Queen said.