2019 HemingwayHigh School graduation

Hemingway High School valedictorian Courtney Smith addresses her classmates at their graduation Friday evening in the school's gym.

HEMINGWAY, S.C. – The red carpet drove Courtney Smith to the top of the Hemingway High School Class of 2019.

Smith was one of 76 seniors to graduate from the school on Friday.

She said each year the top-performing academic students are rewarded with a red carpet ceremony to celebrate their achievements. She said each year she was driven to be at the top of the class so she could participate in the ceremony.

Smith also spoke about her birth. She said she almost died twice in the delivery room. She said her birth made her scared but she used her GPS – goals, plans and success – to overcome her fear and become the valedictorian. She encouraged her classmates to follow her example to achieve their own successes in life.

She quoted Maya Angelou, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, two passages of the Bible and the Serenity Prayer in her speech.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” the prayer reads.

Smith is receiving scholarships from the Army College Fund as well as a South Carolina Life Scholarship.

The 2019 salutatorian was Johnovan Barkers.

“I’m thrilled with anticipation at what this next stage of our lives is going to bring,” Barkers said.

Barkers will receive a Santee Electric Cooperative Scholarship, a South Carolina Life Scholarship and a College of Charleston merit scholarship.

Of the 76 graduates, 32 have received some form of scholarship to attend college, including Darius Williams, who received a football scholarship to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The 2019 seniors saw their Tigers fall just short of two state championships.

In basketball, Hemingway advanced to the state championship but lost to High Point Academy. In football, Hemingway advanced to the Lower State Championship game, where it lost to Horry County’s Green Sea- Floyds by a final score of 47-7.

Hemingway is one of three high schools serving Williamsburg County. The other two are C.E. Murray and Kingstree. C.E. Murray is located in Greeleyville.

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