Warhorses graduate in a night of memories

It was a night of memories Friday, June 5 at W.W. Carter Field in Barnwell.

It was an evening for Barnwell High School seniors to remember all the effort to get them to this night – graduation night.

It was a time of remembrance as the Class of 2015 remembered a fallen classmate.

It was a turning point in the lives of 124 young men and women as they concluded their high school career before starting the rest of their lives.

Commencement ceremonies began with each graduating senior placing a red or white carnation in a basket beside a band helmet in memory of DeAndre’ Johnson, a classmate who died in June 2014 in a car accident. That basket of carnations, and the memories of those flowers represented, was presented to the grandparents and father of Johnson.

Both Salutatorian Jeffery Todd Teems and Valedictorian McCrae Paxton Carroll in their speeches urged their classmates to embrace God and faith as they go forward in their lives.

“What are your priorities tonight?” asked Teems. “We have all been given life. What are you going to do with it?”

Teems said each student and those around them had sacrificed much to get them to this night but “God sent the ultimate sacrifice.”

He challenged the Class of 2015 to “choose who you will serve”. He concluded, “As for me and my house, I am going to serve the Lord.”

Valedictorian Carroll said they were all there “to celebrate our accomplishments”.

“While we are the center of attention,” he said, “we did not get here alone.”

Red bags at the end of each row were passed from senior to senior, each taking a gold-colored token stamped with “Thank you so much” on them. Carroll said the coins represented “tokens of life” which symbolized “what others have given you.”

He encouraged each graduate to share their token with someone who had helped them in their life.

He said, “Since the day you were born, God has given you the gift of life. Shouldn’t we share our gifts?”

He challenged the graduates to “live your life for others” and “keep giving your tokens of life until you have no life to give.”

Finally, it was time for each graduate to hear their name called by Principal John Burdge and receive their diplomas from Superintendent Jay Grissom. They made their way down a receiving line, shaking hands with members of the Barnwell School District 45 Board members.

They turned their tassels, turning a page in their lives.

Then, as the sun set on their high school days, the graduating class of 2015 sang their alma mater one last time, tossed their headboards into the dusky sky, and heard the cheers of their family and friends.