By Trina Trice
Morrow High School marked the official end of the Clayton County school system's 2002-2003 graduation season with its own ceremony Wednesday night.
Under amber skies, more than 350 seniors gathered on the Twelve Oaks Stadium field to celebrate the end of their high school careers.
"One by one, we will walk on the stage to receive our diplomas and become adults, all at the same time," said Larodus Carter, president of the senior class, in his address to seniors. "There will be great times and not so great times. Put your problems in God's hands and everything will be all right."
Parents, relatives and friends showed support for seniors, tying yellow and green banners and balloons to the bleachers.
The sound of air horns was just as common as groups of young people screamed the names of their friends, siblings or cousins who were graduating.
Parent Patricia Peagler chose to wait on the sidelines while her son took pictures of senior Danyell Wingfield as she walked on the field.
"It's a major accomplishment," Peagler said about her daughter's graduation. "She's overcome a lot of obstacles to get that work done. She's worked hard and had a lot of determination. I want her to be successful and all she can be, and be happy and healthy."
Wingfield wants to work in the medical field and could study to be a medical assistant following graduation, Peagler said.
In a black graduation robe, English teacher Augustus Jordan III worked security at a post along the field fence.
Most of his 11th-grade homeroom from last year graduated Wednesday night.
"I'm a new father because I had a baby last year, but I feel like they're my kids," Jordan said. "I feel kind of teary-eyed and proud of them on a day such as this."
Graduation night for valedictorian Gavin Chu, who plans to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology to study biomedical engineering, reminded him of what he'll miss about high school, saying it was "the social experience. It seems like it was more stress-free and not as important as college would be."
Chu said he hopes all seniors will maintain a "passion for life."
Senior Brittany Berry, who'll attend Georgia Southern University in the fall, wants to maintain her thirst for knowledge and the fun memories she's shared with friends.
"I learned a lot of things in high school," Berry said. "I learned how to be responsible when I get out on my own. I learned about being successful and finding out how hard it is to find a job with how bad the economy is right now."
Berry has a sister who recently graduated from college. Berry's sister isn't having much luck finding a job, she said, but that isn't deterring her from furthering her studies.
"It's good to go to college ?cause it furthers your learning,'" she said.
No doubt Morrow High School Principal Dr. Morris Blasingame would have been proud to hear Berry's words, as he told all seniors: "It is my sincere hope that you look back on your years at Morrow High School and know that you were prepared. May the future be yours. Congratulations, Class of 2003."