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Nearly 300 students walk the stage during HGTC's in-person graduation

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MYRTLE BEACH — Hundreds gathered, socially distanced and masked, to watch Horry-Georgetown Technical College's class of 2020 walk the stage and hear a message from South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Tuesday afternoon.

Though more than 1,600 students were eligible to march, about 300 walked the stage. The youngest graduate was 17, the oldest 75. Some were from states as far as Maine and Minnesota. Others were from countries as far as the Philippines. And among the graduates were 56 who are military veterans.

"The class of 2020 is a class of achievers," said HGTC President Marilyn Fore. "You've endured more than most."

Evette took the stage to give a message to the graduates, encouraging them to look into the "amazing" job prospects in South Carolina. Evette said the day was a day to honor and celebrate all they've learned.

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"It's truly an honor to be with you today," Evette said. "I can tell that you are ready to begin the next chapter of your lives."

To ensure safety and follow health guidelines, HGTC only allowed 300 graduates to participate in the 54th commencement ceremony.

HGTC was approved within hours by the South Carolina Department of Commerce after applying to have the event, officials said during the last HGTC area commissioners meeting.

Each graduate was only given two tickets to make sure the number of guests stayed below state guidelines, though the convention center holds more than 6,000 people. Social distancing was practiced and most attendees wore masks. Those speaking at the podium removed their masks when speaking.

Reach Hannah Strong at 843-277-4687. Follow her on Twitter @HannahLStrong.

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