AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Graduations are underway in Aiken County. Many seniors turning the mortarboard tassel tonight on their high school football fields.

Masks are not required at Aiken County graduation ceremonies. But superintendent King Laurence is encouraging people to wear them. The pandemic didn’t stop loved ones from coming out tonight to the dog pound here at Silver Bluff High to see their seniors graduate.

Valedictorian, Erica Childers says, “I’ve worked very hard all throughout my middle school career and high school career to keep my GPA up.”

About 1400 seniors are graduating this year from Aiken County Schools. We had the privilege of covering the ceremonies at Silver Bluff. Erica Childers is the 2021 valedictorian graduating with a 5.46 GPA.

“I’m just a very competitive person always have been and I love to learn. I’ve always loved every single subject and it’s always been exciting for me. I’ve always wanted to be valedictorian,” says Childers.

Childers plans to major in biochemistry at the College of Charleston. She says the past school year has not been like any other.

“It was kind of lonely I guess studying at home, and it wasn’t as much fun, but our teachers have been very helpful,” says Childers.

Salutatorian, Ella Mack says, “Very helpful, reached out a lot. I’m very glad to be in an era where technology is so advanced and we were as prepared as we could be I guess.”

Ella Mack is the salutatorian for this year’s graduating class at Silver Bluff. She’s going Winthrop University as a declared music education major.

“I’m currently a Palmetto Fellow and a teaching fellow so I’m on a few different music scholarships, a few different teaching scholarships,” says Mack.

As loved ones cheered on their grads Thursday, Childers says she’ll never forget the memories made as a bulldog.

Childers says, “Mr. Red Johnson’s class, we had lively debates in there, in history and it was a lot of fun.”

South Aiken and Wagener-Salley also held their graduations tonight but there are many more tomorrow.