On May 22, at the Farm Center in New Brockton, New Brockton High School’s class of 2017 lined up outside on a dreary night. The location of the graduation was changed from the New Brockton football stadium due to inclement weather.
Parents peeped around the Farm Center’s entryway corners to snap photos of their children as they processed in.
The girls wore wide smiles. The boys walked in with stoic expressions. Sweat glistened on some of the senior’s faces. Ignoring the sweat beads they walked in to participate in one of the biggest days of their lives—graduation day.
Cooling fans fluttered furiously across the auditorium stands as Class of 2017 Valedictorian Molly McDaniel spoke about the discoveries of being a senior. “I challenge you to go out and make new memories. Be remarkable.”
One thing that NBHS’s valedictorian and salutatorian, Hanna Holloway, have discovered and will take with them is pride in where they come from.
“We have Gamecock pride and you have to come here to understand what it really is all about. When you come here it is so much different. You feel something and it helps you get through everything,” McDaniel said. “I hope to take some of the small town pride from around here and share it with some of the people that aren’t from around here.”
“These are the same people we went to school with for the 13 years and beyond that. Some of the kids here I went to daycare with. We’ve known each other from the time we were babies and our parents have kept us in the same close group so we definitely know each other and we’re a family no matter where we go from here,” Holloway added.
The girls also reflected on new beginnings.
“It’s exciting to start a new chapter in my life. I know the doors closing but having a new place to go is going to be good,” said McDaniel.
“It’s kind of scary but at the same time it is really exciting because we’re moving on from such a small town, but we know we still have New Brockton at our backs wherever we go from here,” Holloway said.
When asked how they achieved their goals at New Brockton McDaniel said, “Our parents and the staff, they’re extraordinary. They went beyond heights to help us get to where we are today.”
Holloway also distinguished her family as key figures in her growth into graduation. “My parents and both of my grandmothers really. They taught me to read from a young age. That’s helped tremendously here. Having these teachers to help boost and encourage us along the way made it no problem.”
Finally, the two girls to finish at the top of their class gave parting words of wisdom to upcoming seniors.
“I’d encourage them to stay focused because everyone always says it’s going to go fast. Senioritis is a real thing, and you never really believe it until you’re there. Now, this year it definitely hit some of our class so I just want them to stay focused on what they need to do in order to be successful because they’ll have the school behind them to help them along the way. And I want them to all stay on the right track,” said Holloway.
McDaniel says she would tell incoming seniors, “to live their life, cherish the moment because it’s the only senior year they’ll have and take every opportunity they have and make the most of it.”