Though the Cummings family has lived in Atlanta and in Florida, they have come full circle.
Bonnie Cummings on Friday graduated from Evans High School, the same school her mother Gwen graduated from 24 years ago.
"It's amazing to have my daughter graduate from the same school," said Gwen Cummings, who plans to give her daughter her high school ring as a graduation gift. "It's just a coincidence that it happened that way."
Evans High School graduated 354 students this spring, but Friday it added four more to that list. Bonnie and the three other summer school graduates wore caps and gowns as they marched to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance into the Evans High auditorium to accept their diplomas.
Bonnie was so excited about the ceremony, she forgot her cap. She borrowed a spare the school had, which was pinned on by her English teacher Susan Saxon. The only noticeable distinction was the charm hanging down from the tassel: Class of 1994. Bonnie had to re-take English literature to graduate this summer.
"It's OK," said her mother of the fact that Bonnie didn't graduate with her classmates this spring. "This is just as important. The whole point is she worked very hard for this diploma."
The intimate ceremony was in stark contrast to the two hour graduation ceremonies that were scheduled back-to-back at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center in May. About 55 family and friends were in attendance, along with School Superintendent Tommy Price, Summer School Principal Rose Carraway, Assistant Principal Chris Seagraves, the Evans High ROTC Color Guard, Choral Director Phillip Streetman on piano, one Columbia County School Board Member Roxanne Whitaker and other school officials.
"While its obviously safe to say it's much smaller, the significance is still as great; it's the same accomplishment," Price said. "These graduates have achieved a milestone in their lives."
All four of the students were there because they didn't have enough credits to graduate this spring.
"They probably appreciated it more than those at the regular graduation, because they didn't think they'd get to," said Carraway.
And for the four on stage, the struggle made the accomplishment that much sweeter.
"I slacked off during my senior year," said Charles Spearman, who took English 12B during summer school.
His mother was so proud she sent out 70 graduation invitations and the family planned to go to Villa Europa to celebrate after the ceremony.
What advice does he have for others? "Get it right the first time!"
Luke Hall had strep throat at least four times last year and had trouble making up the work he missed.
"It's the completion of the first phase of his life, one of the biggest crossroads in his life," said Luke's mother Marla Greene. "Talk about triumphs and tribulations. We had tribulations this year, but he made it."
Luke said he plans to join the Army.
Josh Holland failed photography last year and took word processing this summer to make up the credit.
"It's not as organized as the main ceremony, not as prestigious, but it still works. You feel just as good," he said.
Josh said after graduation he would like to go to tech school to learn to "do something with computers."
During the ceremony Josh and Christopher pumped their fist high into the air singing the last line of Evans High's Alma Mater: "Hail to Black and Gold."
"This has been a long time coming," said Josh's mother Marla Noseworthy. "We've gone through a lot to get to this point."
All four graduates had the opportunity to speak to the audience during the ceremony and most thanked their family and teachers for getting them through. Bonnie's tribute was nearly inaudible through her tears.
"I didn't realize I was going to cry through the entire thing," she said. "I didn't realize it was going to mean this much."
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