CONYERS -- Spirits soared as Alcovy High School's 356 seniors said goodbye to high school and hello to the future during graduation ceremonies Friday evening.
It was a packed house at Church in the Now in Conyers, and students and their families and friends didn't hesitate to let their excitement be known, frequently cheering, clapping and yelling out.
Student Body President Joseph Butso reminded his classmates just how far they've come: "There was a time when we could barely walk, Barney the dinosaur was our role model and 7:30 was way past our bedtime. Now, we are sophisticated young adults," he said.
"I can honestly say that our class is the most talented, competent, determined and intelligent student body that has walked through Alcovy's double doors," he added.
Butso was the recipient of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Cup, honoring well-rounded, successful students throughout the state.
Students chose to combine lyrics from two Broadway musicals to create their class song, pulling from "Another Day" from "Rent" and "Family" from "Dreamgirls."
Salutatorian Heather Steckenrider quoted from another classic song and novel during her remarks to the class.
"I encourage you to follow your dreams and pursue your lifelong goals. Do not stand back. Embrace all life has to offer and like Frank Baum has said, 'Your dreams really can come true,'" she said, referring to a line from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
Valedictorian Tara Bishop ended the student speeches, calling the moment bittersweet.
"I believe each and every member of the class of 2011 can succeed ... We have the means and aspirations to foster great change in the world," she said. "Keep dreaming big dreams, trust in your abilities and believe in the goodness of God."