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Hundreds to don caps and gowns this week

By Staff
Beaufort County’s seniors gearing up for stage walk
By EUGENE L. TINKLEPAUGH
Staff Writer
For about 400 seniors graduating from Beaufort County’s three high schools, the next few steps and a tassel turn hold a special significance.
Friday was the final day of classes for students across Beaufort County.
Graduation ceremonies will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., a departure from last year’s graduation schedule.
Last year, the three high schools held graduation programs at staggered times on the same Saturday. The local board of education reverted to a former policy of three graduations on three different nights during the week.
End-of-course tests were administered Friday for grades 9 through 12. End-of-grade tests for grades 3 through 8 were completed last week.
Once all testing is completed, teachers and administrators at the high school work to finalize graduation preparations, according to Sarah Hodges, public information officer with Beaufort County Schools.
Verified lists will not be available while grades are pending, Hodges said, and graduation figures are estimates based upon the number of students enrolled in 12th grade.
At Washington High School, approximately 200 students are eligible for graduation. Northside High School has more than 100 seniors looking to graduate. Southside High School has about 90 candidates for graduation.
Graduating seniors attending the Beaufort County Ed Tech Center will graduate from their original home high school, Hodges said.
The Ed Tech Center, an alternative school, has one senior graduating, said principal Victoria Mallison.
Northside’s graduation is Tuesday. The ceremony, in keeping with tradition, will not have a guest speaker. That right is reserved for the valedictorian.
John Smith, Northside’s principal, said the salutatorian and class president also have parts in the ceremony.
Seniors sit on the stage instead of in the front rows of an auditorium so family members can see the graduates’ faces, Smith said.
This school year, Smith said, “went very smoothly. It was one of the better years in the last five or six. Our students did very well, and our seniors had an outstanding senior night.”
Nearly $650,000 in scholarships and awards were given to Northside seniors, Smith said.
Southside’s seniors will graduate Wednesday. This year, the school will slightly change its format.
Principal Todd Blumenreich and assistant principal Larry Knox will both speak at the ceremony as they did last year, but the new school board chairman also will have a role.
Washington High graduates its seniors Thursday.
Principal Russell Holloman said he’s preserved the established ceremony in keeping with past years.
Holloman came on as principal of the county’s largest high school in the middle of November.
Chairman Robert Belcher will participate in both Southside’s and Washington’s ceremonies.