By Greg Gelpi
"There's a time to reap and a time to sow," the Bible passage read to members of the Morrow High School Class of 2004 said.
Seniors from throughout Clayton County public schools reaped the benefits of four years of exams, term papers and studying with their annual baccalaureate programs.
"At times I didn't really know if I would make it," Mt. Zion senior Dionna Pearce said.
Pearce said she "feels wonderful because it's been all these years and it's finally here."
Only days away, the Clayton County Class of 2004 will walk across the stage and receive their diplomas in two days of graduation ceremonies on Friday and Saturday.
Social Studies Department Chairwoman Gloria Parks led the Mt. Zion High baccalaureate congregation in the ABCs, teaching the senior class her version. Bringing the congregation at Dixon Grove Baptist Church to an excited murmur and finally resounding applause, Parks said what each letter of the alphabet stands for, tying each letter to an attribute of God, attributes students should emulate.
"That's where we started, and that's where we finished," senior Emory Clark said of the fundamentals. Inching closer to graduation is a "big burden off my shoulders."
There is no guarantee that life will be "peaches and cream," Antoine Gordon said. In fact, life holds many rough times ahead for the seniors.
"In America, we have problems from the White House to the school house," said Gordon, who gave the inspirational talk at Morrow High's baccalaureate. "I have a proven formula for success."
Mindset plus onset equals asset, he said to seniors at The Rock Baptist Church.
"If you think you're something then nine times out of 10, you'll be something," Gordon said. "Develop a positive mindset. You need to believe in yourself."
Putting the right attitude into action will produce results, he said. Gordon challenged the Class of 2004 to change the "I think I can" attitude of the Little Engine that Could into "I know I can."
Morrow senior Patrece Booker said the ceremony was full of friends and encouragement.
"I knew (graduation) would happen one day," Booker said. "It happened faster than I thought."
As their final year winds down, Charles Q. Carter told the senior class of Jonesboro High that life comes down to relationships.
Carter, the pastor emeritus at Jonesboro First Baptist Church, said the keys to a contented life are proper relationships with God, others, material possessions and self.
"Contentment is a learned sort of condition," he said. "It doesn't just come to you."
He warned the seniors not to be "misguided by material things."
As their churches and congregations honor them, the seniors have little to do, but count down until it's their turn to hear their name read aloud and accept their diploma.
"It feels good to be out of school," Morrow senior Mario Peek said. "Here comes Saturday and graduation."