North Augusta High School seniors came together with their teachers and loved ones watching to receive awards and scholarships for their achievements Thursday night.

With state scholarships added in with the ones presented Thursday, North Augusta High seniors have racked up over $11 million in scholarships for the year.

At the top of the program, Chloe McGee, who is headed for higher education at the University of South Carolina, was announced as the valedictorian.

Katie Wright, future Clemson University student, was named the salutatorian.

Some students plan to stay in North Augusta for a while, some are going to college and maybe playing a sport, and some are going into the military after graduation.

Senior Erin McDowell said after the ceremony that graduating is going to be bittersweet.

“At the beginning of the year, I was so excited to graduate, but then I found three of my closest friends, so now it’s kind of bittersweet, like I don’t want to go but I’m very excited,” she said.

McDowell plans to attend the University of South Carolina and major in international business and business finance, and minor in Spanish.

McDowell said she is going to miss her friendships the most.

“We’re all going our separate ways. I actually grew up in Augusta so I didn’t really have a lot of friends in North Augusta until this past year,” she said, adding that she found the group of friends she has always wanted at North Augusta High.

Senior Lanisha Garrett received a cord for enlisting in the military after graduation.

She’s going into the Air Force and leaves for basic training around September.

“I feel like being on my own for the first time and really like, experiencing life by myself is probably going to be the coolest thing,” Garrett said about life after high school

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Faye Purcell, with the North Augusta Lions Club, gives a scholarship to senior Elisabeth Harkins. 

Senior Elisabeth Harkins in staying at Aiken Technical College to continue a degree in criminology, she said, then plans to transfer to Clemson.

She said she’s excited to graduate to be one step closer to her goal of being an investigator or private detective.

At the end of Thursday night’s ceremony, North Augusta High School principal John Murphy gave the seniors some parting remarks, including to always remember there’s room at the top.

Lindsey Hodges is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. Follow her on Twitter at @LindseyNHodges.