While they still are, and always will be, Effingham County Rebels, a group of seniors wore their college colors to school on Wednesday.
Effingham County High School hosted a college decision day celebration in honor of its graduating seniors who will continue their education at four-year, two-year or technical schools. Nearly a hundred students, many wearing shirts of the college they will attend, were recognized for being accepted and committing to attend a college or university.
“This is what it’s about,” said ECHS Principal Yancy Ford. “The kids work through elementary and middle and high school and they have dreams and aspirations, and today was an opportunity for us to celebrate those goals and aspirations with their families and teachers.”
The celebration was held in conjunction with the May 1 national college decision day, the date many colleges nationwide require their admitted students to confirm whether they will enroll. The number of Effingham County High seniors heading to college will grow as more make their decisions in the coming days, Ford said.
South Effingham High School will have a similar ceremony Friday for its college-bound seniors and their parents.
Members of the ECHS class of 2013 have committed to 26 different colleges, from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to Young Harris. The collegians-to-be were recognized in groups by the school they will attend, and then individually took the podium to state the major course of study they each will pursue.
Georgia Southern University is the most popular choice among this year’s ECHS senior class, with 28 students committed to becoming Eagles. Next is Armstrong Atlantic State University with 18 students, followed by six heading to the University of Georgia.
While some seniors will be the first in their family to attend college, others are establishing a family connection to a particular school. Josie Alford will attend Emory University, where her sister Cleo is a freshman.
Though Cleo, who graduated from Effingham County High School last year, is the older sister, Josie good-naturedly claimed to be the one who blazed the Alford trail from Effingham to Atlanta.
“I was the one who originally liked Emory the most, and because I liked Emory my sister wanted to go there, too,” Josie said with a laugh. “So it’ll be great being there with my sister.”
Josie said she chose Emory because of its strong programs in biology and pre-medicine, which she will study in hopes of becoming a pediatrician. She also hopes to intern at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is located adjacent to the Emory campus.
“Also, Emory has many programs that foster volunteerism and leadership,” she said, “and I’d like to continue my leadership in college.”
Josie’s mother, Ebelma Alford, was one of several parents to attend the college decision day celebration. She beamed with pride as she explained being “exceptionally happy and delighted” along with her husband Michael to have a second daughter heading to Emory.
“It just feels like a true blessing. My heart is ecstatic,” she said. “All of their hard work is coming through and we see the fruits of their labor, so we’re very excited about their future.”
Ford thanked not only his staff at ECHS, but all the teachers in the Effingham County School System who helped the students along the way in reaching their goal of being accepted into college.
“That’s not just done at high school,” he said. “That starts when they’re in pre-K, so I want to thank all those who have had a part in these children’s lives.”