Pee Dee high school hosts first in-person SC graduation since the pandemic

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FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) – South Florence High School hosted the first in person graduation in our area. News13 was there to witness this moment. You can tell that a lot of time went into making this happen. Every staff member and graduate had on masks and loved ones watched from their cars.

A day that every high school student dreams of, but for the South Florence High School Class of 2020 that ideal graduation looked different. Chairs were six feet apart in the ceremony and everyone had on masks. Instead of loved ones being in the stands and cheering on their graduate, they had to watch from the seat in the cars.

Senator Lindsey Graham, guest speaker for Thursday’s ceremony, spoke about taking advantage of the times we are in and gave the graduates words of encouragement.

I never seen more opportunity for a graduating class than I do right now surrounded by a lot of disappointment and despair,” Graham says. “You live in a tough world an ever changed world…sometimes it can be cruel, but my money is on you. You made it this far. God willing the best is yet to come,” Graham continued.

Rachel Shumate, South Florence Class of 2020 Salutatorian, is heading to join the army. She alongside Dylan Gandy, South Florence Class of 2020 Valedictorian, spoke both encouragement and comfort to their fellow classmates.

“We learn the skill and power of communication. We were born into past mistakes and past history and government and encourage to take part in social changes,” Shumate says.

“Even now we are separated from our friends and our loved ones distancing ourselves protect them from the possibility of transmitting Covid-19,” Gandy says. “Have hope. Hold hope that we are resilient and will persevere through life’s hardest challenges,” Gandy continued.

John Allen is the father of graduate Jalen Allen and he says his son has overcome many obstacles so with Covid-19 changing ideal graduation it was hard but they got through it.

“Jalen was born 1 pound and three ounces so he had a big journey to go through and he’s still in the process of learning even more,” Allen says.

Students stood tall and wearing masks as Valedictorian Dylan Gandy left them with this message.

“Today we walk across this stage knowing that we are prepared for what may come in the future because no problem in the past has stopped us before,” Gandy says.

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