Just before J.R. McDaniel IV walked across the stage to accept his diploma, he waved not just to his parents but three generations of his family, including his great grandfather Julian Robert McDaniel, who traveled from Arizona.

McDaniel, an Eagle Scout at Troop 149, was in dual enrollment his senior year and will finish his business associates degree this summer. He works full-time at All Bright Electric as an electrician and will be headed to Athens Tech in the fall to attain his electricians certificate.

McDaniel was one of 290 graduates from Oconee County High School. 

North Oconee High School graduated 300 students this year.

“We have a crazy talented class,” said NOHS Valedictorian Emily Zheng. “In front of me, there’s probably a future billionaire, Congressperson, Academy Award winner, Tony Award winner, Grammy Award winner and Nobel Prize winner.” 

NOHS Principal Philip Brown’s advice to graduates is to cherish each phase of life as its own blessing.

“Enjoy the small moments,” he said, “because they are the moments that matter.”


Athens Academy

Athens Academy’s 77 graduates celebrated their commencement Sunday at The Classic Center. These students have been offered a combined $4.24 million in scholarships, not including the HOPE Scholarship.

In the fall, five seniors were recognized by the National Merit Program. Sixteen seniors were inducted into Cum Laude Society, the high school version of Phi Beta Kappa.

“This year, we had many highlights,” said Head of School John Thorsen. “We were fortunate enough to return to Mercedes Benz stadium for another chance at a football state title.”

The boys tennis team won its 33rd consecutive region championship and a third place finish in state. Girls soccer won its sixth consecutive area championship and advanced to the Final Four. Boys soccer won its fifth consecutive area championship and advanced to the Elite Eight.

Graduates also gave back to the community with four service days and partnerships with over 30 non-profits. The Interact Club reached its long-term goal of packaging 100,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger. 

“Class of 2019 is a memorable class, and they’ve been great leaders in our Upper School. They are going to do great things,” said Upper School Director Susan Zalac. “The first day of school seems so long ago, as our seniors have gone from being high school students to a group of young men and women who are ready for the next step.”


Prince Avenue Christian School graduated 59 students Saturday at Prince Avenue Baptist Church. Over a third of those young people will be attending the University of Georgia. Graduate Christian Parrish has made a commitment to play football at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

This year, 90 percent of the senior class completed dual enrollment courses equaling 279 college classes. Many of these students will technically enter college as a sophomore.

The class of 2019 logged over 3,770 volunteer service hours during high school, with their senior project being a week-long senior missions trip to San José, Costa Rica, where they worked with orphans, low-income housing construction and prayer ministries.

The girls’ softball team finished second in the state, the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams played in the state tournament, the football team made it to the state semifinalsfor thefifth consecutive year and the boys’ golf team won the area championship. 

Earlier in the month, seniors began a new tradition called the Wolverine Last Walk, whereby the entire study body formed a parade line as seniors were greeted with encouraging signs and cheers. Surprise guests included beloved retired teachers from the students’ lower and middle school days, Lavonia Hardman and Coach Richard Bell.    

“Our class felt loved as we walked to the church surrounded by the entire school,” said graduate Will Todd. “The last walk helped us leave the school with a great perspective on the many blessing we have had at Prince.”

The seniors’ day concluded with a reading of senior superlatives and a picnic.

“There were a few tears in some seniors’ eyes during the event,” said Head of School Col. Seth Hathaway, who congratulated Salutatorian Abby Frost, the Rotary Student of the Semester who will be attending Auburn University to study chemical engineering.

“What a sensational young woman of unlimited potential,” he said. “We are all excited to see how God is going to use Abby in the years to come!”

Hathaway had the following advice to graduates: “Be deliberate about developing your character through the courses and professors you choose, the professors you allow to seek you out, what outside class reading you engage in, and what student organizations you join.”


Westminster Christian Academy commencement was last Friday at Grace Fellowship Church. The Class of 2019 is comprised of 21 graduates who received a combined $2.4 million in scholarship offers, a record high for Westminster.

Before graduating, seniors were state champions and state runner-ups in volleyball, men’s soccer, cross country, One-Act Play and Mock Trial. They mentored children during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

“They have accomplished much in their time at Westminster, and I can only imagine what they will accomplish in the years to come,” said Headmaster Jared Clark. “My encouragement to them would be the words that Paul conveyed to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14: ‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’”

For more on this story, see the May 23 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 

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