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CHRISTOPHER — Hayden Thorn Hall remembers the day back in fifth grade when he visited a friend's home.

The friend's parents, who own a restaurant, asked if he'd like to order something to eat from the restaurant.

“Just getting offered food like that, that really blew my mind,” said Thorn, now 18. "I’m not used to eating from restaurants, and I didn’t know what to say when they asked me what I wanted to eat. I just ended up getting ribs, and I ended up not eating them, and I felt absolutely horrible,” especially knowing his background. 

His background, Thorn explained, was one where he was often hungry and so poor that he sometimes borrowed clothes to wear from friends.

He was among the region's top high-school graduates honored this past Tuesday night at The Southern Illinoisan's 45th Annual Southern Illinois Society for High School Achievement Banquet. He graduates from Christopher High School.

The 195 students come from 34 of the region's high schools, honored for their scholastic, leadership, community service and athletic accomplishments by staff at their schools.

The Southern's Editor Autumn Phillips and Assistant City Editor Marilyn Halstead presented the students with certificates at the banquet.