The top three in the South Effingham High School class of 2016 will be seated next to each other Saturday night. They still may quite a lot of each other in the future, too.
Valedictorian Raquel Hazzard, salutatorian Chandler Cubbedge and honorarium Austin Barefield are all headed to the University of Georgia, and they’re going to Athens on similar tracks. Hazzard will study chemistry as an undergraduate, Cubbedge will major in pharmaceutical sciences and Barefield will major in biology — and each has their sights set on medical school afterward.
“We’re all in the same boat,” Barefield said.
“We’ve all been Georgia fans growing up,” Cubbedged said. “All of us going there is going to make us even closer. We’ll push each other still academically there.”
Hazzard, also a member of the SEHS Drama Club, will be in the honors program at UGA and is eager to get started with college
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m excited for Athens and UGA.”
The Mustangs’ top grads have had the same classes, though not at the same times.
“We’ve had AP classes, honors classes, so we’ve always had the same classes,” Barefield said.
Barefield and Cubbedge have had the same pathways classes, and have gone head-to-head for top academic honors at the soccer team’s postseason banquet.
“We’ve known each other a long time,” Barefield said.
Said Cubbedge: “We’d compete to see who’d get the soccer banquet award. I got the award before end of courses. He’d end up higher in the class ranks. This year I said, ‘this is not going to happen to me again.’”
The competition among three has been spirited and cordial, they acknowledged.
“It’s friendly competition,” Barefield said. “We help each other out. If I need something, I’ll ask Raquel or Chandler. If they need something, they can ask me. We’re all friends and we all each other to do the best they can.”
All three also said the end of high school and their impending graduation is a relief.
“I’m just excited and happy that it all worked out, that all the hard work paid off,” Hazzard said.
“There’s no more stress and worrying about everything and how I’m going to finish,” Cubbedge said.
Said Barefield: “We’re happy to move on to college and get started with more school, and happy all the work is over. It’s been a lot of work the last four years. It’s nice to relax for a few days.”