South honors their 2020 Senior Graduates


Senior students at last year’s graduation file up along one another, eager to finally be able to claim their diplomas. Ms. Duff and one of her former students, Jamal, took one last photo together as she wishes him only the best for his future career ahead of him.

Carmel Yonas, Opinions Editor & Senior Reporter

Senior year, a time of excitement and laughter, but also exhaustion and anxiety too. It’s the year of opportunities, life-changing decisions, and a chance to enjoy the little bit of high-school left. As it comes toward the last few months of school, South congratulate and applaud their seniors with special events to rejoice in their accomplished victories. Every senior has a story to tell, how they survived their lowest lows, and how full of joy they felt when accomplishing a goal. The best part? All the stories are different and unique, embodying who they are today.

One of the cool events hosted on May 18 is honors night. It’s annual at South and never fails to truly give acclaim for all the scholarships and so much more earned by the seniors. Many teachers like Ms. Duff, Mr. White, Mr. Pileggi, and administration invested a lot of their time to make the night picture perfect. It’s not for their sake, but to show the students they really care and know that the night is a very serious spotlight to be in.

Mr. Pileggi states, “I was heavily involved in the planning of Senior Honors Night.  It was interesting this year as I had to request a representative from each scholarship awarding organization to record a video on behalf of their recipients.  Trying to create the parameters of how they can do it was difficult when considering the wide age range of presenters that we normally have.  Everybody has their own level of comfort and understanding of technology, and not everybody wants to be in front of a camera either!

It is important to celebrate the seniors as they have played an important role at South for the last 4 years.  Additionally, every student has had their own struggles and hurdles on their way to a diploma, even if it doesn’t appear so from the outside.  We don’t celebrate the diploma, we celebrate the journey. My favorite moment of planning the celebrations has been seeing the reactions when students win a scholarship. They have worked so hard and are finally reaping the benefits of such.

Mr. White says, “As the ITS, I often have a hand with any digital artifacts needed for our normal senior celebrations – for example, the slideshow that runs at graduation showing all of the senior portraits, or putting together the presentation for our Honors Night ceremonies. This year, our Senior Honors Night and War Eagles of Distinction ceremonies were very different, because they were done completely as remote video. We had presenters send in a video instead of attending and speaking live, and the presentation was narrated ahead of time.

Senior year is the culmination of a student’s childhood, after which they’re leaving to go to college, to work, or to other endeavors. It’s the age when they start getting more and more adult responsibility and privilege – both a time to reflect and to celebrate. This senior year was different from all others in that our seniors didn’t get to spend it with their friends on our traditional end of year events – prom, senior parties, yearbook signing, etc. But we still want them to feel as honored as all of our other seniors. I loved hearing the positivity and thanks from parents and students for recognizing them as much as we can.

Lastly, Ms. Duff replies, ” I’m the Class of 2020 Senior Sponsor. I help prepare the senior gift (the water bottle fillers were the gift this year), plan senior week (this year it’s as senior day, but it’ll still be awesome), and plan the graduation ceremony with lots of help from my colleagues. We have also done the Senior Spotlights on social media and put Class of 2020 signs in their yards. They have been working towards this accomplishment for so long! This is an unprecedented time and the Class of 2020 should still feel as special and loved as classes in previous years. A moment I took to heart was reading through the Senior Spotlights – I felt delighted seeing the students’ plans for after high school and how teachers made an impact on their time here at South.

Student awards go from DECA scholarships, to teacher scholarships, military scholarships, and etc. Some seniors won two or three times which only adds to their exuberance. Grace Ward was elected twice (Joe Dumphy Golf Scholarship, The Jim Severnak DECA Advisory Board Grace Ward Scholarship), Grady Arant three times (Will Davison Memorial Scholarship, Becky Feehan ” Be a Champion” Scholarship, South Forsyth High School Alumni Association Inspiration Award), and twice for Jordan Chauncy (Forsyth-Cumming Optimist Scholarship, Richard Chancy Ignite Passion Scholarship).

Another occasion South assembled was the honk for high-school seniors. On May 22, people all over Cumming are invited to honk 20 times for the graduating students of 2020. This small get together at 3 pm is to uplift each and every senior, reminding them that they are just as meaningful as all the other previous graduates celebrated with no inconveniences. The honks indirectly play in motion that the good citizens of Cumming haven’t forgotten about their rising freshmen in college, nor how proud everyone is of what the future beholds for them. Beep beep!

Moreover, South also hosted Senior Spotlight on May 16. Senior Spotlight are the individual photos of every senior here at South. The pictures say who their parents are, what college they will be headed to, what they’ve been doing while school is out, and recognizing teachers/staff for inspiring them throughout their 4 years of high-school.

A senior, Abbie Gilbert, was not predicting this for her last year at South. Like any other student, she was over the top excited for prom, and for all end-of-the-year events. Unfortunately, her wishes couldn’t come true, but that didn’t stop her from looking on the positive side and finding unexpected gifts just waiting for her on the other side.

Abbie exclaims, ” Everything so far has been very unprecedented! But, it brought happiness in ways I couldn’t have imagined. In fact, I got a puppy, and made it in the college I was previously waitlisted for. Great things have came out of this unimaginable time, and I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”

Ms. Wilson, the principal, gave a message to all her seniors. She hopes they won’t forget what the purpose of living is, and carry it with them always.

“Class of 2020, seize the opportunity not only for yourself, but to serve others.”