As the sun went down behind the pine trees Friday night, the seniors of South Effingham High School moved their tassels from right to left, signifying the end of their high school careers and the beginning of what lies ahead in the future.
Thousands of family members, friends and teachers turned out to the ceremony in an effort to honor those who had finished their days as a student in the Effingham County school system, a journey that began 13 years ago.
Following the seniors walking down the field to their seats, the South Effingham High School band ensemble performed the grand processional, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Jeff Faith introduced the posting of the colors, the NJROTC presented the colors and the evening’s festivities were underway.
Class vice president Naren Bhimbra welcomed the crowd to the ceremony. Moments later, class salutatorian Alex LeFavi took to the podium to address his fellow classmates.
“Tonight, we celebrate the class of ’17,” LeFavi said. “17 will forever be a special number for us. It will especially be one some of you remember because that’s the highest grade you made on a math test the entire year.”
It was the first of many jokes LeFavi made in his speech as he kept his classmates and a number of his teachers rolling in laughter.
He also struck a serious note with some advice he gave to the graduates.
“I’d like to give you some practical advice — you know how everyone tells you to follow your dreams, dream big and never stop dreaming? That is a bunch of baloney,” LeFavi said. “Stop dreaming — start doing. Dreamers spend their lives dreaming while the doers are out there getting things done. Be the hero of your own life — start doing.”
Class valedictorian Garrett Harvey struck a similar note with his speech.
“In a short while, we’ll be able to walk across the stage, receive a piece of paper and call ourselves graduates of South Effingham High School,” Harvey said. “For this great accomplishment, we are all to be commended. We owe this success to the grace of God, the support of our families and friends and to the efforts of the outstanding group of teachers, coaches and administrators.”
He added that a former coach instilled in him a message early on in his career at South Effingham that he has kept with him — along with other classmates.
“Tonight, I am honored to discuss a phrase familiar to every young man and woman sitting there on the field: live the legend,” Harvey said. “I want you to think about what happens next. We are leaving this school and for many of us, our friends and family as well — not to begin a new life but to continue the one we started many years ago, the one this school helped to form.”
Harvey assured his classmates his speech wouldn’t last much longer because like them, he was ready to walk across the stage.
Chorus teacher Ray Ellis began the roll call of graduates and a half an hour later, the Class of 2017 was cemented in South Effingham High School lore.
The Class of 2017 senior ensemble took to the stage and performed the alma mater before the recessional was played by the SEHS band to lead the graduates off the field for the final time.
South Effingham High School wished to thank the following for their contributions to the 2017 Senior Week activities: Effingham County Board of Education, The Stang Zone, Countryside Baptist Church, Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola, South Effingham High School NJROTC, SEHS faculty and staff, New Life Flowers and Gifts and Mr. Manolis and the video production class.