Logan C. Ford started his musical career at Aiken High School even before he officially was a student there and ended it Friday on a high note.
Ford, who plays the trumpet and was the student leader the marching band as the head drum major his senior year, will attend Charleston Southern University in the fall to study instrumental music education. He plans to pursue and master's and doctorate degrees with the goal of becoming an orchestra conductor.
Ford was one of more than 600 of Aiken County Public Schools' newest graduates from Aiken, Midland Valley, Wagener-Salley and South Aiken high schools who received their diplomas Friday during commencement exercises in USC Aiken 's Convocation Center.
“Technically, you could say I started at Aiken High in the summer of my eighth-grade year when I started with the Aiken High marching band,” Ford said.
Greg Priest, who now is the band and orchestra director at Aiken High, was Ford's band director at Aiken Middle School then and stayed after school to help him with his trumpet and musicianship.
“He was a big inspiration for me in my whole music career,” Ford said.
Already in the band, Ford joined ROTC when he got to Aiken High.
“That was a great experience,” he said. “That was the perfect thing for me transitioning from middle school to high school.”
His experiences in band and in ROTC gave him the experience he will need as an orchestra conductor and in life, Ford said.
“Aiken High set me up for success,” he said.
Aiken High graduate Zahra Rizvi found great success as she pursues her goal of becoming a doctor. She received $1.4 million in scholarship offers from universities across the country. All together, Aiken High's class of 2018 received more than $18 million in scholarship offers, more than any other Aiken County Public School high school.
Rizvi will attend Tufts University outside Boston to study cognitive and brain sciences probably on a pre-med track and hopes to attend medical school.
“It's what I've always wanted to do,” she said. “I've always wanted to be a doctor. I'm really excited about it.”
Rizvi applied mostly to small, liberal arts universities in the Northeast.
“I'm excited about being near a city and meeting new people she said,” she said.
Although she'll be heading to a big city, Rizvi said Aiken High was just the right size.
“It's big enough that there's a lot of us, but it's small enough to know people,” she said.
Aiken High, Midland Valley, Wagener-Salley and South Aiken high schools' graduating classes by the numbers are as follows:
Aiken High School
• Michael Ray, valedictorian
• Sierra Catherine Wheeler, salutatorian
• 302 graduates
• 190 students eligible for state lottery scholarships
• 23 Palmetto Fellows
• 40 HOPE scholarships
• 127 LIFE scholarships
• 143 students will attend a four-year college of university
• 92 will attend a two-year college
• 17 students will enter the military
• $18,612,152 in scholarships offered
• Fatima Zahra Rizvi had the largest amount of scholarships offered at $1,435,516
Midland Valley High School
• Kevin Wayne Holley, valedictorian
• Mark Cameron Jones, salutatorian
• 309 graduates
• 290 students will attend a two- or four-year college or university
• 10 students will join the military
• $13,532,416 in scholarships offered
• Mallory Hodges had the largest amount of scholarship offers at $370,420
Wagener-Salley High School
• Kelsey Alaine Byars, valedictorian
• Brenna Diann Kirkland, salutatorian
• 44 graduates
• 25 students will attend a four-year college or university
• 12 students will attend a two-college
• Two students will join the National Guard; one student will join the U.S. Air Force; and one student will join the U.S. Marine Corps
• $901,080 in scholarships offered
• Tanner Turner received the largest amount of scholarship offers
South Aiken High School
• Emily Caroline Chafin, valedictorian
• Natalie Jean Bolen, salutatorian
• 262 graduates
• 223 students will attend a two- or four-year college or university
• Seven students will join the military
• Reid Hampton Bolen will attend the U.S. Naval Academy
• $10, 875,089 in scholarships offered
• Reid Hampton Bolen had the largest amount of scholarships offered.