Tift County High graduates 533 in Thursday ceremony

May 18—TIFTON — "Today marks the closing of a chapter that we have looked forward to since we were very young," said Tift County High valedictorian Lindsey Kreschollek at the Class of 2024's graduation Thursday evening at Brodie Field.

"As we embark on this next chapter of our lives, I want us to not only look back and be thankful for the memories Tift County has given us," said Kreschollek, "but to also look toward the future in our new adventures."

Graduation was a bit of an adventure for Tift County High during the week. This was the first ceremony in several years to be held at night. Long a Saturday morning staple, high chances of foul weather at first moved the ceremony to the UGA Conference Center. However, a poll of students overwhelmingly was in favor of keeping it at Brodie Field but moving the ceremony to Thursday night.

Skies were clear and weather was perfect for the rescheduled ceremony.

Ujvali Patel, Tift's STAR Student for 2024, was the first of three student speakers at graduation. She thanked friends, teachers and parents for not only being there at the ceremony, but "for guiding us through our struggles and celebrating our accomplishments."

"This day would not be possible without your unwavering support," said Patel. She encouraged graduates to slow down and enjoy the moment. "Let the joy and gratitude wash over you and appreciate the memories and relationships we have made," Patel said.

Patel said the efforts that got them to the stage will serve well for the future: "Progress can be far more valuable than perfection."

Both Patel and salutatorian Stephen Denham mentioned specific moments and memories with teachers. Denham also reflected back on how their high school days started, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

Denham asked the Class of 2024 to stand and applaud their teachers and parents. "They poured their hearts and souls preparing us for this moment, when we are ready to go out into the world and make our mark," he said.

This is a class of records, said Denham, noting the 533 graduates, including 140 honor graduates and what he said were a record-breaking group of 48 to make the 1100 Club. Athletically, Denham mentioned the Region 1-6A All-Sports trophy, boosted by 10 region champions and elite eight appearances from baseball and girls basketball.

Kreschollek said God has a plan for every graduate's life. She thanked teachers for helping them grow, friends for making it the best years of their lives and to families: "Without you we would not here today."

Though a new chapter begins and pages continue to turn, Kreschollek said they would never forget how their story was created. "I want us to go forth and use our determination to turn our dreams into reality," she said.

Interim TCHS principal Dr. Jerry Baker certified every graduate to Superintendent Natalie Gore and the board of education. Gore accepted the candidates for their appropriate diplomas.

As they have been for the last 35 years, graduates' names were announced by Mike Chason. This will his last, however. Chason said he was stepping down from the role, calling his time doing so "an honor and a privilege."

After each of the 533 names were announced, grads were advised to move their tassels from right to left, then a TCHS choral group sang the school's alma mater.