It was graduation night for the Habersham Central High School Class of 2024. The evening started out with some light sprinkles just before the ceremony began. However, it didn’t dampen the mood in Raider Stadium.

As the Class of 2024 filed onto John Larry Black Field Friday night, family and friends applauded.

“The students that are graduating tonight did not reach this milestone alone,” said Habersham Central High School Principal Dr. Jonathan Stribling, presiding over his last graduation at the school. “Family and friends present tonight who supported our graduates in pursuing their education are certainly our special guests.”

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Seniors file onto John Larry Black Field at the start of Friday night’s graduation ceremony. Nearly 500 students graduated from Habersham Central High School and the Success Academy. (Jerry Neace/


Dr. Aaron Scott, a Habersham Central High Class of 1991 alum and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, was the guest speaker. He congratulated the graduating class on achieving this milestone.

“What you’ve done is huge!” said Scott before adding, “You are about to embark on what is considered the adult chapter of your life.”

Scott dedicated his adult years to a career in nuclear medicine. Starting as a medic in the U.S. Army, Dr. Scott now teaches radiation physics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He serves as the Nuclear Medicine Technology Representative on the Maryland Board of Physicians.

“I  wanted to help people that were battling cancer,” he said. Scott urged the graduates, “Whatever it is that you choose to do with your life, do it with everything that you have. Know that there are going to be pitfalls, there are going to be challenges and there’s going to be heartache.”

HCHS alum and 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Dr. Aaron Scott delivers the commencement address at Raider Stadium in Mt. Airy on Friday, May 24, 2024. (Jerry Neace/


Recalling how a former classmate helped “mold me into who I am today,” Scott also challenged the graduates to find someone in their lives who challenges them.

He told the story of Bonaime, an elementary school classmate from Laos. One day, as their teacher was returning their work, she announced their grades. Aaron received a 94, and Bonaime a 97.

“She (Bonaime) probably doesn’t remember this, but she looked up from her paper and looked at me and gave me this little smirk. I’m not sure what happened in my brain, but something snapped, and I heard this voice saying, ‘Oh, it’s on!’ So, from that point, whenever we took a test or a quiz, Bonaime and I would run up to each other and see who did the best,” said Scott.

Acknowledging his former classmate in the crowd, Scott said, “I want to thank her because she made me a better student. In front of God and the class of 2024, Bonaime was the smarter student.” He then challenged the graduates to “find your Bonaime. Find that person who challenges you to be a better person.”


Dr. Scott also shared a story about him and his son playing an electronic game. His son lost several games in a row but would not quit until he won. On the twelfth try, he finally succeeded. Scott told the graduates to have that same drive.

“You keep trying until you win. That’s what life is all about.” He shared a quote with the students and the audience. “The magic that you are looking for is on the other side of what you are avoiding.”

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” he reminded the students. “No matter how unattainable it sounds. No matter how ridiculous it seems. Take your shot. You might be surprised about just how good you are,” Scott concluded.


2024 HCHS Valedictorian Georgia Kerr speaks during graduation. (Jerry Neace/

Habersham Central High School and the Success Academy had more than 480 students graduate with the Class of 2024.

Habersham Central valedictorian Georgia Kerr encouraged her classmates to seek happiness. “It’s not your circumstances that determine your happiness. It’s not the people around you. Only you can choose happiness.” She reminded them, ”Allow yourself to chase after happiness a little harder than achievements.”

While the students waited their turn to receive their diplomas, they tossed around beach balls until the last student returned to their seat. At that point, Stribling announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Habersham Central Class of 2024!” Caps and confetti filled the air as families and friends rushed onto the field.

For more HCHS graduation photos, click here

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