For many in Greenwood High School’s graduating Class of 2017, this summer will bring them in contact with new people at faraway colleges.

But in the case of Rebecca Sugden and Robyn Mayo, their different settings includes a touch of familiarity, as the girls are going to be roommates at Erskine College.

Fitting for a group of 285 graduates who, during the past four years, pulled together to forge close friendships and lasting memories.

“We have learned and grown into better versions of ourselves. As we begin the rest of our lives, we will learn and grow from the lessons high schools have taught us,” Natasha Von Seelen told her classmates during commencement ceremonies Friday afternoon at Lander University’s Finis Horne Arena.

Looking to the future was a recurring theme for the Eagles in attendance – along with their families and school administrators.

“These graduates have an awesome opportunity before them today. Each one of them has the ability to make a positive difference in our world,” Principal Chad Evans said.

Valedictorian Rachel Darby recalled an instance during freshman year when she tripped on the way to class – instilling in her a valuable lesson that she conveyed to her peers.

“How many times are we so fixated on the destination that we don’t pay attention to the steps we are taking,” she said. “Every decision we make about classes to take, what people to be with and what to do with our time led us to be where we are today. If we truly want to pursue a better future, then we must challenge ourselves to change something we’re doing right now. When you finally reach your future dreams, enjoy those moments but then find a new goal and make those new steps count.”

For Sugden, the reality of her achievement hadn’t sunk in by the time graduation rolled around.

“I really don’t feel a difference yet, but I will when this is all over, I think,” she said.

Senior Class President Leeann Pundt had a different perspective.

“Our last day as Greenwood High School Eagles is one of the best. We get to meet new people, go to new places and have new experiences,” she said. “I’m excited to see what the future holds for each of us, I’m excited because our class has built a special bond.”

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.