Chukker Creek Elementary School's playground equipment in front of the campus remains largely the same as it was in 2006, and it provided a perfect setting this week for a "memory moment" for a pair of South Aiken High School seniors.
Marisabel Acevedo and and Sebastian O'Banion were going through their first day of kindergarten in August 2006, when Tammie Newman, an employee of the school district, visited Chukker Creek and saw a photo opportunity.
The two kindergarteners were sitting atop the slide when Newman and her camera got their attention. The result was a photo that appeared a few months later on the cover of the school district's annual report.
Thirteen years later, the two honor students – still friends and classmates – were teenagers and decided to re-enact the scene on Aug. 20, for their "last first day," in the exact same spot.
Recalling the 2006 scene, Newman wrote, "I was able to snap a very innocent shot of these two sweet children. It was selected by Superintendent Linda Eldridge as the cover shot for the annual report that year. Who knew they would remember that day and celebrate their senior year by reproducing it?"
The end result, she added, was "a nice surprise and tribute" to their years in Aiken County's public schools.
Those years have led to Acevedo, whose parents are Samuel Acevedo and Celia Aponte, planning to attend Clemson to pursue a degree in chemical engineering, possibly en route to a career as a pediatrician. She is an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, has studied dance since age 5 ("tap, jazz, pointe – I do it all"), and also takes part in the local Young Life ministry, a teen-oriented outreach.
She and O'Banion are friends and she sees him in action on Friday evenings, through his role in the Thoroughbreds' football program. He is a linebacker, and is also known for his athleticism in the spring, as a pitcher and outfielder for South Aiken.
O'Banion, whose parents are Tommy and Alison O'Banion, plays guitar and piano (self-taught on both) and is hip-deep in art. As for the next few years, he is considering College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University, USC Beaufort and Savannah College of Art and Design, with focus areas to include business marketing and graphic design.
He is active in New Spring Church, and at school, his roles include participation in the Distributive Education Clubs of America, focused on marketing and including O'Banion as vice president of finance; and the National Honor Society.
He and Acevedo first met as pre-schoolers at Sunshine House, and both came up through the same schools, with the exception of sixth and seventh grades, when Acevedo attended South Aiken Baptist Christian School.