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System takes pride in number of graduates
Coming Sunday: Don't miss the FCN's celebration of the class of 2012. Only in Sunday's print edition.

At a glance
Local public and private high school graduations begin today and run through Wednesday as follows:

• Academies of Creative Education: 6 p.m., Lambert High School
• Horizon Christian Academy: 6:30 p.m., Creekside United Methodist Church

• Forsyth Central: 10 a.m., Cumming Fairgrounds
• Pinecrest Academy: 10 a.m., Upper School Gymnasium

• Lambert: 2 p.m., Gwinnett Arena
• South Forsyth: 7 p.m., Gwinnett Arena

• West Forsyth: 2 p.m., Gwinnett Arena
• North Forsyth: 7 p.m., Gwinnett Arena

More than 2,000 Forsyth County students will walk across a stage and accept their high school diplomas in the coming days.

Attending the ceremonies, which begin tonight and continue through Wednesday, is the highlight of the year for Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans.

“High school graduation is probably the most reaffirming activity we participate in throughout the school year,” he said. “To see friends and multiple generations of families celebrating with the graduate is one of those things that personally brings a flood of emotion to me.”

Evans added that “educators share and can understand this sense of extremely positive emotion.”

“We all enjoy the celebrations of accomplishment and the opportunities that are within reach for the graduates,” he said. “The ceremonies cap off everything, not only for the year, but for the 13 years of experience for most all of these students.”

The class of 2012 is the largest the school system has produced. There were 1,935 graduates in 2011.

“We’re prepared for those classes to be bigger,” said Sue Derison, director of information systems. “We’re growing. We’re enrolling more kids than we’re graduating. That’s how you get growth. You have more coming in that you have coming out.”

Enrollment for next year is expected to increase by 1,100, she said, for a total of nearly 38,400 students.

But it’s not just about the number of students, it’s the quality, officials said.

“Forsyth Central High School had a three-way tie for salutatorian,” said Cindy Salloum, the system’s director of secondary education. “Their [grade-point averages], they literally carried it out six [decimal] points. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a three-way tie.

“And we have co-valedictorians at South Forsyth High School. So those are just excellent things for us and we’re really very proud of that.”

Salloum added that the system is also proud of the students graduating tonight from Forsyth Academy. It took the creative learning opportunities offered by the district to get those students back on track.

According to Salloum, Forsyth Academy Principal Brad Smith said “that overall, he has 90 percent of students who come to him graduate.”

“Those are often students who would have dropped out,” she said. “So we’re recouping about 90 percent of the students who would have dropped out through his program. And that’s a good thing.”

The system’s graduation rate is still being calculated, but officials hope to see a continued increase.

“All our schools have been very upbeat and pleased with the number of graduates they have this year,” Salloum said. “We are very proud to be able to say we have more and more graduates. That’s a source of pride for us.”