As the current school year comes to a close, so does the inaugural year for Grovetown High School.
In a year marked by firsts -- first football win, first prom, first homecoming queen -- perhaps the most important triumph for the new school was building a sense of unity.
Adelle Hyatt, Chris McElhaney and Carl Tate are all juniors at Grovetown High and each attended a different high school last year.
When school started in August, all three said they tended to associate just with friends from their former schools.
"I think that became a natural thing for all of us to do, to seek out familiar faces," said Chris, a 17-year-old who attended Greenbrier High last year. "We were in a big new school with lots of new people. You kind of wanted to hang out with someone you already knew."
Chris and Carl, a former Harlem High student, used sports to form new friendships.
"I met some guys from other schools playing basketball I got to be friends with," Carl said. "When you're on a team, that's what you do."
As the first Miss Grovetown High School, Adelle, 16, was popular. But she still felt out of place at times after transferring from Evans High.
"I was a little nervous about making new friends," she said. "But after I joined HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), I got to know some new people and have made some good friends."
Now, these students consider themselves Grovetown High Warriors.
"I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but I do now think of myself as a Grovetown student, not a Greenbrier student," said Chris, who played football and baseball.
Academically, students have performed well on standardized tests and enrollment for advanced placement classes has doubled for next school year, Principal Penny Jackson said.
Athletically, many of the school's sports programs produced winning records and made it to the playoffs.
Socially, however, Jackson said more work is needed.
"I want to make improving our social life a focus for next year," she said. "I want to encourage the kids to get more involved in attending games and joining clubs."
Next year, Jackson said she hopes students like Adelle, Chris and Carl will mentor incoming students to make them feel welcome and improve student unity.
"In addition to being a new school with a new student body, many of our students come from military families, who move around a lot," Jackson said. "It's hard to get a student to invest in a school if they know they're only going to be here for a short time.
"With a mentoring program, I'm hoping that will give these incoming students an immediate connection with another student and help get them involved."
In essence, Jackson said she wants to instill within her students a sense of pride at attending Grovetown High.
That task has proved difficult, Jackson said, as she has had to continually fight a public perception that her school was a dumping ground for academic rejects and social misfits from other schools.
"I don't know why people believe that, but it's out there," she said. "We have our problems just like any other school, but for the most part, we have good kids here who are performing well.
"They have a lot to be proud of and I want to make sure that they can be proud to tell their family and friends that they attend Grovetown High School."
Aug. 4: Ribbon-cutting ceremony held
Aug. 10: First day of classes
Penny Jackson: First principal
Susy Roper, Craig Baker and Sean Petro: First assistant principals
Todd Booker: First athletic director
Trinity Bass: First who will receive a diploma
Trinity Bass: First Valedictorian
Bianca LaTia Stewart: First Salutatorian
Trinity Bass: First STAR student
Kathy Manz: First STAR teacher
Trinity Bass: First student body president
Tabitha Colbert: First Governor's Honors award winner
Christine Pedroza: First JROTC Warrior Battalion commander
Katelin Beauford: First Homecoming Queen (center)
Marshall Frank: First Homecoming King
Adelle Hyatt: First Miss Grovetown High
Renae Capers: First drum major
Softball vs. ARC: First athletic win
Seth Hill (right): First male to receive athletic scholarship
Chade Martin: First female to receive athletic scholarship
Seth Hill: First to score a touchdown
Marianne Davignon: First girl to score a basketball goal
Xavier Crane: First boy to score a basketball goal
Joe Henry: First boy to score a soccer goal
Hanna Bright: First girl to score a soccer goal
Gabbi Medina: First to hit softball homerun
Blake Lane: First to hit baseball homerun
LaFreida Jenkins, Travon Biggers, Myles McDavid, Joseph Cross and Jermaine Kerkula: First track athletes to qualify for state playoffs
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