207 Sumter County High School graduates take their next steps in “The Climb”

Published 2:47 pm Sunday, May 28, 2023

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AMERICUS – On Friday evening, May 26, 207 Sumter County High School seniors reached the next important milestone in their climb of life. In front of a boisterous crowd of about 2,000 people at Alton Shell Stadium, these young men and women turned their tassels and became 2023 Sumter County High School graduates.

In her invocation speech, Bryanna Bateman, one of the honor graduates, stated that during the last four years, she and her classmates have had very influential moments and memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. She also mentioned that for each individual graduate, the experience was unique, but as a class, each member of the class shares a common bond of being members of the Class of 2023. She also thanked all of the teachers and administrators for guiding and encouraging her and her classmates on their journey to this special moment in time: graduation. At the end of her speech, she paid tribute to the Class of 2023’s fallen classmate, Da’Shun Worth, who passed away earlier this year.

After Bateman’s invocation, the graduates were treated to the playing of the song entitled “The Climb”, which was followed by the address from Salutatorian Saige Wakefield. During her speech, Wakefield stated that it seemed as if it were only yesterday that her and her classmates were attending elementary school. She mentioned that in the Kindergarten hallway, there was a big banner that said “Class of 2023” She stated that for the past 8-13 years, she and her classmates witnessed each other being able to do things such as learning how to read, tying shoes and learning to accept failures. “Tonight is not a sad occasion, but a joyful celebration as we’ve entered into young adulthood,” Wakefield said. “Congratulations classmates on your college admissions, military recruitment and job offerings.” She went on to say that for those of her fellow classmates who still haven’t yet decided on what they want to do after graduation, it is never too late for them to find their true passion. “I know you wouldn’t think to celebrate failures, but if we don’t fail, then we will never know what it is like to get up and try again,” Wakefield said. “Tonight is not only your beginning to something new. You are blessed with a fresh, new beginning every day you wake up. You may not have the best day one day, but you can begin the next day with positive thoughts and kindness in your heart,” Wakefield continued.

Sumter County Class of 2023 Valedictorian Tiffany Brown gives her address.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

During her speech, Valedictorian Trinity Brown stated that high school was a new beginning for which she and her classmates could not have prepared for, but made the best out of it. She also went on to describe the difficulties of the COVID year, their freshman year, in 2020. “Look at where we are? How far we have come,” Brown said. “Be confident in your abilities to persevere,” Brown told her classmates. Brown went on to thank the members of her family for the support they gave her throughout her high school years and told her fellow classmates that they not only will turn their tassels for themselves, but for Da’Shun Worth as well.

Relatives of the late Da’Shun Worth receive his high school diploma on his behalf.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Once Brown was done with her speech, it was time to present the diplomas to each and every member of the 207 graduates of Sumter County High School. One by one, as each graduate received his/her diploma, roars of celebration and unbridled joy could be heard throughout the crowd of parents, families and friends of the members of the Sumter County High School Class of 2023.