They stood in the warm sun outside Lower Richland High School, young people on the cusp of a great adventure, waiting in an informal processional line as principal Marvin Byers set down the final rules.
No blue jeans, no miniskirts, no hats and, absolutely, no sunglasses.
This was Move Up Day, a tradition at Lower Richland that symbolizes the ever-turning wheel of life.
There was a Sunday kind of feel on this day late last week — girls wearing silk dresses and classy high heels, boys waiting in coats and ties.
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It also was a taste of what is to come — both for the roughly 300 Lower Richland seniors graduating today, as well as those who, in coming years, will follow in their footsteps.
While seniors stood outside, awaiting their procession, underclassmen already had moved to new places inside the gymnasium — places they will hold in the coming year for schoolwide gatherings — with ninth-graders now where the 10th-graders traditionally sit and 10th-graders in the space 11th-graders usually occupy.
And juniors were finally settling into the place where seniors once reigned.
It was a time to remind graduating students and those who would follow of the hard work it takes to arrive at this day.
“It shows our progress from where we came in to where we are now, collectively, as a class,” said Almon Castor, 18, who plans to attend Midlands Tech to study pharmacy technology.
Academic letters and bars were awarded, and outstanding students were recognized in English, math, social studies and science. There were salutes to career and technology students and those in foreign languages and the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
There also was the crowd-pleasing “Turn Around Award,” made to Rashion Richbow, and the “Principal’s Perseverance Award,” presented to Donovan Badgett.Scholarships were announced, a $6.5 million bonanza of academic and needs-based awards and state-sponsored HOPE and LIFE scholarships.
The oohs and aahs from students and families in the bleachers ratcheted up in volume for Travis Sabband valedictorian Raven Stevenson, who each garnered more than a dozen high-profile academic scholarships. Stevenson heads to Duke University this fall; Sabb plans to attend Wofford, said assistant principal June Page.
The day, senior class president Stephanie Hayes said, “symbolizes the transformation we have undertaken during this year.”
For principal Byers, Move Up Day — and undoubtedly today’s graduation — represent a time to celebrate the transformation and the struggle.
“A lot of people try to figure out what LR is about,” Byers told the cheering students.
“You are about what you saw today.”
Reach Click at (803) 771-8386.