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Heritage grads celebrate last four years

Everybody has a smile on their face as nephew Alfredo Ramos-Robledo snaps a photo of his uncle and namesake, Heritage High School graduate Alfredo Ramos-Robledo, as he waits to receive his diploma Thursday night at Charles Evans Memorial Stadium. The little one slipped past a deputy to get onto the field. Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

Everybody has a smile on their face as nephew Alfredo Ramos-Robledo snaps a photo of his uncle and namesake, Heritage High School graduate Alfredo Ramos-Robledo, as he waits to receive his diploma Thursday night at Charles Evans Memorial Stadium. The little one slipped past a deputy to get onto the field. Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

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Two cool dudes celebrate their graduation from Heritage High. Joseph Brunton (left) plans to go into the Navy and Kareen Lewis says he will take his art work to Venice Beach, Calif., to see what the future holds.

CONYERS -- Spirits soared as high as the temperature during Heritage High School's graduation ceremony Thursday evening.

Parents and loved ones, many sitting under umbrellas to block out the sun and sipping bottled water, beamed as they watched their students finally obtain that coveted high school diploma.

Heritage graduated 348 students. Salutatorian Lauren Golden said four years at the school prepared her and her fellow classmates for the real world and cited examples of how daily activities and lessons learned from teachers translate into real world practicality.

On the daily morning practice of saying the Pledge of Allegiance and observing a moment of silence, she said: "The pledge, long memorized, is symbolic of something greater than all of us individually. Together we are far stronger. However, just because you are part of a larger body does not mean your voice is not important. If our annual student body elections have taught us anything it is that each and every vote counts. I urge all of you to become informed and active citizens, regardless of political affiliations."

Valedictorian Kaylee Humphries encouraged graduates to live by four principles: help others, have positive relationships, believe in a higher power and be happy.

"It is up to us when we decide to listen to words of advice from parents or teachers, or when to embrace the principles of positive living," she said. "In the University of the Universe, we individually choose when to receive our diploma."

Principal Greg Fowler congratulated graduates on the 224 Advanced Placement exams taken during this school year and the 25 students enrolled in dual enrollment or the Move On When Ready College Now Program. He also noted that during their four years at Heritage, two teachers, Caroline Ingle and Marion Hanahan, were named Rockdale County Teacher of the Year and the school was several times named an AP honor school. Heritage has been named to the top 10 percent of all high schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report, The Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine and recognized by the Governor's Office as a platinum and gold level award school for academic performance, he said.

The inspiration speech was given by Class Secretary Sari Felton. Class President Jordan Martin led the tassel ceremony and closing remarks were provided by Class Vice President Aubree Anderson. Performances included the National Anthem sung by Caroline Benson and Lizzarea Wilkerson and the Alma Mater by the Senior Choral Ensemble.