Friday, March 13, 2020 is a date that will stand out in the minds of the Class of 2020, AHS valedictorian Meg Botts noted Friday at the AHS graduation.
Little did the AHS seniors know that this would be the last day they would walk the halls of Abbeville High School as students.
Blame it on the coronavirus. The pandemic led to schools in South Carolina being closed for the remainder of the academic year.
Despite the national health emergency, the Abbeville County School District found a way to provide graduations at AHS and Dixie.
The Abbeville High graduation was held on the AHS football field, in a nod to social distancing made necessary by the pandemic.
Friday night, the approximately 100 members of the AHS Class of 2020 were seated in evenly spaced chairs out on the AHS football field, as Botts and other student honor speakers looked back on the experiences the Class of 2020 shared, and the wide, wide world in which they were about to enter.
According to AHS tradition, the top three students in each graduating class serve as honor speakers at graduation.
"Nothing can separate the bond of the Class of 2020," said the third honor speaker, John Grady Bolt.
"We have known each other for most of our lives," said salutatorian Samantha Johnson.
The past four years have not always been easy, but there were some bright moments, according to Johnson.
One of these times was the staging of a Special Olympics event at AHS.
"We worked together to make children happy," she said.
Johnson advised her classmates to carry that spirit into the wider world.
"Continue being good people," she said. "You will be remembered more for your kindness than any level of success you can possibly attain."
Botts, meanwhile, noted that the members of the Class of 2020 were born shortly after 9/11, and now they are graduating in the midst of a pandemic.
"We are strong," she said of herself and her classmates. Not only were they strong, she said, but they possessed "priceless memories" of school as they grew up -- from Westwood Elementary to Wright Middle School to AHS.
"God bless the football team," she said, commending the Panthers on the bundle of state championships they won.
"We will forever hate Saluda," she said, referring to Abbeville's loss to the Tigers in the Upper State finals at Hite Stadium last year.
"Most of us wouldn't trade these last four years for the world," she said.
Now it was time to look back and reflect. "Class of 2020 -- the one where we were quarantined -- we made it!"