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Eastside graduates first class at stadium

EHS graduates leave the field with their diplomas and are on their way to finding out what the future holds. To assist them in having a bright road ahead, the class earned more than $4.2 million in scholarships.

EHS graduates leave the field with their diplomas and are on their way to finding out what the future holds. To assist them in having a bright road ahead, the class earned more than $4.2 million in scholarships.

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Eastside High School used Homer Sharp Stadium for the first time for graduation ceremonies this year and happy graduates (l-r) Tamara Warren, Adrian Austin, and Brittany Williams mark the occasion with a group hug. While graduation is a time for smiles, it also means saying goodbye to old friends. -- Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

COVINGTON -- Eastside High School's class of 2012 kicked off the Newton County School System's graduation ceremonies that returned to Homer Sharp Stadium this year.

Donned in green robes, nearly 300 graduates participated in commencement exercises on Sharp Field as families and friends watched in a packed the stadium.

"School has not always been easy," Eastside's 2012 salutatorian Carli Barbo recalled.

She said as kindergartners, they hated nap time, and now they are begging for a five-minute nap during class. She also wondered if they are ready to leave their parents.

"It's probably all going to get harder," she warned.

However, she believes every graduate has the potential to be great.

"We are not guaranteed success -- all we are granted is a chance," said valedictorian Seth Kimbrell. "We've been well prepared to leave our mark on the world."

Graduates Braeden Berry and Okie McCart performed country hit "Tattoos on this Town" as the class song before school Principal Dennis Roddenberry informed the class that they earned more than $4.2 million in local, academic and athletic scholarships this year.

"You've succeeded in every challenge head on," he told graduates. "You've distinguished yourselves. ... It makes me proud to see each of you graduate."

Students also labeled Roddenberry as an honorary graduate, since he is retiring at the end of the school year.

"We are exceedingly proud of your accomplishments," NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews told graduates before he confirmed them as such. "We wish each of you continued success in your future endeavors."