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EHS grads told to embrace the possibilities that lie ahead

EHS senior Jonathan Dibb performs the class song, "I Was Here," by Beyonce at commencement exercises Saturday morning at Springfield Baptist Church. Dibb's rendition of the song was met with enthusiastic applause. Staff photo: Lee Depkin

EHS senior Jonathan Dibb performs the class song, "I Was Here," by Beyonce at commencement exercises Saturday morning at Springfield Baptist Church. Dibb's rendition of the song was met with enthusiastic applause. Staff photo: Lee Depkin

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The performance of Eastside's Alma Mater by the Senior Chorus, accompanied by the Symphonic Band, brought a moment of reflection for one student at Saturday's commencement exercises. Staff Photo: Lee Depkin

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Graduates, with the long-awaited diploma in hand, are congratulated by Superintendent Gary Mathews, Principal Jeff Cher, members of the Newton County Board of Education, and other school system officials. Staff Photo: Lee Depkin

At A Glance: Eastside High School Graduation

Location: Springfield Baptist Church

When: 9 a.m., Saturday, May 25

EHS Valedictorian: Joseph Ellwanger

EHS Salutatorian: Conner Bryan

Other Graduate Participation: Bryant Johnson, Pledge of Allegiance; Jazmin Ireland, welcome; Jason Briem, turning of the tassels

Performers: Eastside Symphonic Band, Jonathan Dibb performing the senior song, Senior Chorus

COVINGTON -- With the counsel of Superintendent Gary Mathews to "be someone special," Eastside High School seniors accepted their diplomas Saturday morning and took another step toward adulthood.

Nearly 300 members of the Class of 2013 took part in commencement exercises held at Springfield Baptist Church.

Salutatorian Connor Bryan addressed his classmates, comparing them to voyagers setting sail on a journey to the unknown.

"Somewhere out there in the ocean of possibilities are our futures, our destinies," he said. "What we do after today will determine if we are able to travel far enough, to work hard enough to achieve them. All we must do is cast our eyes upon the stars and set sail."

And though none of the graduates can know exactly where they will go in life, Bryan encouraged them to have faith that they will find their way.

Valedictorian Joey Ellwanger challenged fellow graduates to express appreciation to parents and teachers who supported and encouraged them through their years in school.

He also reminded them that commencement marks a point where they are responsible for their own decisions -- good or bad.

"My swim coach, Sean Willette, once told me that if indeed you make a bad decision, do not spend your whole life worrying what the right decision was, but spend your life making it right.

"Take what you have learned the last 12 years and put it to good use. Make your parents and teachers proud. Make your community proud -- and most importantly, make yourself proud of how you choose to attack your future."

Other graduates participating in the ceremony were Bryant Johnson, who led the Pledge of Allegiance; Jazmin Ireland, who welcomed special guests and speakers; Jonathan Dibb, who performed a heartfelt rendition of the class song "I Was Here;" the Senior Chorus, which led the singing of the Alma Mater; and Jason Briem, who led the turning of the tassels.

Principal Jeff Cher announced that the Class of 2013 had been offered 92 different scholarships totaling nearly $2 million, not including the Hope Scholarship, and had accepted more than $1.7 million. He said graduates will attend 42 different colleges and universities in 18 states.