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Editorial: Good luck, Class of 2017

There was a palpable feeling of optimism last week during Royal Live Oaks Academy’s graduation, the first for the Hardeeville-based charter school.

The school opened its doors in 2012 and last Thursday 24 seniors became the inaugural graduating class.

Hundreds of family, friends and supporters packed inside Creative Church to cheer on the students.

The atmosphere was lively and joyous.

It was a scene we’ve witnessed throughout the county this spring as our area’s schools celebrate their graduating classes.

We were impressed by the poise and hopefulness expressed by Royal Live Oaks’ salutatorian and valedictorian.

In front of a large crowd, with classmates eager to grab their diplomas, Ariyan Nathan (salutatorian) and Imani James (valedictorian) held everyone’s attention.

They spoke to their friends and family, but the messages could have easily been directed to all of the county’s students.

Nathan and James urged their classmates to thank the parents and family members who helped guide them and to cherish the moment as they looked upon the faces smiling back at them.

“Take it all in,” Nathan said.

Seize the moment was a theme. Jasper might be a small county, but Nathan and James implored their friends to think big, to aspire to achieve.

Nathan’s convinced her classmates are set to excel. She just hopes everybody else is ready for them.

“We are very talented. We are your future lawyers, doctors, political leaders, musicians, actors and actresses and some of us will make the ultimate sacrifice and serve for this country,” Nathan said. “Don’t count us out, count on us to be great.”

James, who stressed the importance of being around positive people, told her classmates to strive for success.

“The moment has arrived. … Make yourself proud,” she said. “Keep moving forward.”

We hope all of the other seniors — from Ridgeland-Hardeeville High (106 seniors), Thomas Heyward Academy (33), Step of Faith Christian Academy (12), Legacy Christian Academy (8) and John Paul II Catholic School (18) — feel just as inspired. We are pleased our county’s students are bubbling with hope and are ready to make their mark.

We wish them all good luck.

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