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Eastside High School grads look to future | PHOTOS

Alexis Lashay Douglas does a pre-ceremony celebration dance as she and fellow Eastside High School graduates prepare for the commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon at Springfield Baptist Church. Nearly 300 seniors graduated from Eastside this year. (Staff photos: Shannon Peacock)

Alexis Lashay Douglas does a pre-ceremony celebration dance as she and fellow Eastside High School graduates prepare for the commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon at Springfield Baptist Church. Nearly 300 seniors graduated from Eastside this year. (Staff photos: Shannon Peacock)

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Eastside High School graduates take a moment to say the Pledge of Allegiance before receiving their diplomas.

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Gregory Edwards does the Eastside High School “Free Bird” to show his loyalty to his alma mater.

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Michael Pope and fellow graduate Jasmine Rose Green share a congratulatory just before entering the church’s sanctuary for the graduation ceremony.

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Jasmine Green sings “I Was Here” as Sam Potts accompanies on piano during the graduation ceremony.

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EHS principal Jeff Cher congratulates a student as she accepts her diploma Saturday.

Principal Jeff Cher called it “one of the greatest days to be an Eagle” as Eastside High School seniors accepted their diplomas Saturday afternoon to begin their next journey in life.

Nearly 300 members of Eastside’s Class of 2014 took part in commencement exercises held at Springfield Baptist Church. For the seniors, it was a chance to say thanks to their parents and teachers who helped them get this point.

It was also a time to say goodbye. Jasmine Green and Sam Potts framed that sentiment in the song, “I Was Here” with the words, “The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave. That I made a difference, and this world will see.”

Valedictorian Jasper Narvil addressed his classmates and tackled what was on everyone’s mind: What do we do now? His answer was, pretty much anything we want to do.

“It’s OK to be nervous and it’s OK to not be sure of what you’re doing. I don’t think most people do,” he said. “But if we are able to survive back-to-back AP exams, a daily three-hour football practice for an entire season, or an afternoon trying to get out of the EHS student parking lot unscathed, then I doubt that there is much the evil ‘real world’ could throw at us that we couldn’t handle.”

Narvil also encouraged his classmates to avoid closeted lives and said that personal growth comes from overcoming uncertainty. He said, “Go out and do. Plan that trip to New York City. Volunteer at a children’s hospital. Go to a concert for the first time. There’s no better time to do these things than now because as I’m sure we’ve all realized today, life is going by a lot faster than we thought it would.”

Salutatorian Faith Bartello reminded her fellow classmates that their high school experiences have shaped their lives. She joked about “Chicken Finger Friday” at the school cafeteria and referenced an inside joke from their sophomore years involving llamas. Bartello also spoke of the lessons learned from their teachers at Eastside, like Ashley Rickard’s “Random Acts of Kindness” where credits were earned for good deeds.

“Who knew cleaning your own house in the name of getting a deadline pushed back ever felt so good?” she asked.

“Look back on these experiences and use them in your next step, whether it’s attending college or beginning a career,” she said. “However, do not rely on them alone. Allow yourself to grow and take in each experience so that you may develop into the individual you are destined to be.”

Cher announced before diplomas were awarded that the class earned more than $1 million in local, academic and athletic scholarships this year. He said Eastside’s 2014 graduates will attend 47 universities, colleges and other post secondary institutions in 22 states.

He also congratulated the class for its appearance and victory, both firsts for the school, on the WSB-TV quiz show competition “High Q.”

“You’ve worked diligently and you’ve distinguished yourselves and your families not only by completing our graduation requirements but also excelling while here at Eastside High School,” Cher said. “You’ve successfully met every challenge head on with a determined spirit.”

School Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey told the graduates, “You’ve been handed the keys to the next journey of your life, and you’re in the driver’s seat.”