A letter to the Class of 2014

Dear Class of 2014,
It's hard to believe your high school career is over. We're sure your parents feel the same way.
We may not know all of you personally, but we know you've earned your diplomas. We've watched you grow up before our eyes over the years as many of you have been featured in the pages of this newspaper for athletic achievements, academic success and community service efforts.
The road to graduation hasn't been easy, but you made it. It took hours of studying, practicing and dedication. Be proud of this achievement because not everyone reaches it.
As you head off to college, the military or the workforce, we hope you'll use what you have learned so far in life. Remember the advice given to you by those who care about you, including your teachers, pastors, parents and grandparents.
We know life will present you many opportunities and take you many places. We hope many of you will return home to Barnwell County to make it a better place to live, work and play. Sure, our community is small and doesn't offer all the big city amenities, but it is home.
We bet a few of you told yourselves "I'm never coming back to Barnwell" once you graduate. Some of us have been there, but we are glad to be back home.
God has a plan for each and every one of your lives. You may come from a small town, but that doesn't mean you aren't destined to do great things.
Our hope for you as you all go your separate ways is that you will be contributing members of the communities you are in, whether it's here in Barnwell County or halfway around the world. While we'd love to have all of you come back to Barnwell one day, we know that simply isn't reality. However, we encourage you to show the people you will meet in your journey how great Barnwell County is by going the extra mile, displaying that Southern hospitality, and never compromising your values.
As your neighbors, we pledge to stand behind you and support you in your endeavors. Barnwell County has produced countless citizens who are doing phenomenal things, including a Hollywood stuntwoman, college provost, internationally recognized musicians and artists, and the director of evangelism for the S.C. Baptist Convention.
We also know people who are doing phenomenal things in Barnwell County as government officials, educators, and business and industry leaders. They are improving the lives around them.
Like many have done before you, we encourage you to leave your mark on the world and make it a better place. Show the world what Warhorses, Blue Devils, Hawks and Red Raiders are capable of!
Always be proud of where you come from! We will always be proud of you!