The last of Columbia County's high schools to graduate its seniors held a ceremony Sunday.
The 40 graduates of Augusta Preparatory Day School in Martinez finished off a weekend of graduation events with a commencement ceremony at the school's Boardman Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon.
"Honestly, I never thought this day would arrive," said valedictorian Amanda Matheson, adding that she had been too caught up in exams, college applications and other senior activities to think about graduation day.
"The most important lesson we can take from here is to think for ourselves," she said.
The graduates also received some pearls of wisdom from the commencement speaker, Martha Blevins Allman, the director of undergraduate admissions at Wake Forest University.
Allman said that as the graduates leave high school on their journey to college, the most important thing to have packed is the combination of character, intuition, drive, ambition, curiosity and focus that she called "the fire in your belly."
"If you don't have that ... start striking matches," Allman said, adding that college is a time for students to stretch themselves and find what they love. "When it comes to kindling that fire in your belly, sometimes it is OK to play with matches."
After performances from the school chorus and a senior trio and the presentation of two magnolia trees to be planted on campus as the senior gift, Jack Hall, head of the school, said goodbye to the class of 2008.
"(The year) 2008 has had an incredibly positive impact on Augusta Prep," Hall said, adding that the class, its parents and faculty have made tremendous contributions to the school.
"Our school is a far better place because each of you has been here."
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