HARTSVILLE, S.C. - The overriding message to the 252 members of the Hartsville High School Class of 2019 at Friday’s commencement was one of promise: “The best is yet to come.”
“Y’all, we made it,” valedictorian Bennett Forest Surrett told his classmates in his address, a farewell from the Class of 2019. “Tonight, we begin a new journey. We’re all headed for different destinations tonight.”
Surrett urged the graduates to dedicate their lives to service, because life, he said, “is neither easy, nor is it fair.”
He said the experiences the members of the graduating class have gained through their years in school have shaped them into “the strong and determined adults we are today.”
“Many people will call high school the best years of our lives,” said salutatorian Savannah Jane Tew. “I believe the greatest years of our lives are still to come.”
Tew said their years of high school have equipped the class to take on the world awaiting them without hesitation.
Hartsville High School Principal Corey Lewis, in his first year as principal, thanked the seniors.
“Thank you for allowing me to travel this journey with you,” he said.
Lewis said this year’s senior class excelled in academics, athletics, the arts and in service to school and community.
“All of these are accomplishments you should be proud of,” he said. “But I suggest to you the best is yet to come.”
And he urged the graduates to not only remember the motto he offered them at the beginning of the year but to live it: “Good, better, best, never let it rest till your good is better and better is best.”
“That is much more than a catch phrase,” Lewis said. “It is a motto that we should all strive to live by.”
He cited several examples of Hartsville High alumni who have gone on to distinguished careers in their chosen professions, and he said the same awaits this class.
“I do know that there are great things in the future of the Class of 2019,” he said.
Lewis told the graduates one way they can ensure that the best is yet to come for them.
“Nothing you can do is more important than being a good person,” he said.
This year’s graduating class includes 23 Darlington County Board of Education Scholars, 11 Darlington County Board of Education Honor Graduates, 17 International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma candidates and 36 IB Course Candidates.
During the ceremony, graduates Lynsey Marie Steen, Keisler Leigh Cottingham and Jacob Williams Mays were presented the Legend of the Cap and Gown. Graduates Hunter Knight Thompson offered the invocation, and John Lofton Jones led the Pledge of Allegiance. And graduate Emily Eileen Stacy sang the “Star Spangled Banner” with the Hartsville High School Singers under the direction of Dr. James Beaumier.