Jeremy Rich looked at the more than 350 Socastee High School graduates.

He smiled while closing a commencement ceremony for the first time in his career.

“I can honestly say this is the best graduating class I’ve ever had,” the first-year principal joked on Tuesday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Rich had been a math teacher at St. James High School and the assistant principal at Carolina Forest High School. He took over after Paul Browning retired. Browning had been principal for 19 years.

With Rich at the helm, the graduates kept their focus on the future from inside the walls of the “charming industrial building,” valedictorian Janneke Ann Morin said.

Salutatorian Jaan Kamal Nandwani reminded the class each have arrived on graduation day with different life experiences. But, she said, their paths converged at Socastee to form a family.

“Keep your head held high and your heart wide open,” Nandwani said. “Because you are a Brave.”

And the Brave graduates have received about $13 million in scholarships, Rich said.

Of the 355 graduates, 24 wore the black and gold cord of a summa cum laude signifying a weighted grade point ration of 4.75 or higher. There were 53 wearing the black and silver cord of magna cum laude signifying a weighted grade point ratio between 4.25 and 4.75. There were 73 graduates with a black and bronze cord of cum laude signifying a weighted grade point ratio between 3.75 and 4.25.

Even though Rich was new, the faculty stuck with tradition for Socastee High School. The ceremony ended with teachers throwing beach balls high in the air toward the students as they celebrated the graduation.

Janet Morgan is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Contact her at 843-488-7258 or at janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com.

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