147 students get diplomas from Technical High School

June 12, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

Despite being critically burned in a cooking accident at Washington County Technical High School last month, culinary student Dustin Holley graduated with his class Tuesday.

"I was a little reluctant at first. People talked me into it. I know all my friends are behind me," said Holley, who had bandages around the burns on his neck.

Holley's face, chest and arms were burned May 9 while he and two other students were preparing a chicken flamb dish.


Holley's classmates collected $243 for him, which they presented to him at the graduation ceremony, held at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic Recreation and Community Center.

Valedictorian Joel Footen addressed the class of 147 about their "Rocky Road ... And it's Not Ice Cream."

Footen said high school was a journey that he will remember for the lunch table conversations, the school dances and the teachers who guided him along the way.

Footen spoke about his own difficulties when his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during his junior year.

"She told me to stay focused. I began to understand what she meant. Through tough times, you can still have dreams and aspirations," he said.

Guest Speaker Fred K. Teeter Jr., president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, asked the graduates to consider coming back home to build their future.

Tom Wibberley, the father of 1999 Technical High School graduate Craig Wibberley, presented $1,000 scholarships to seniors Sarah Strite and Colin Mackenzie. The scholarships honor the memory of Craig Wibberley, who was killed in the October 2000 terrorist bombing of the USS Cole.

Principal Arnold E. Hammann presented the M. Eugene Mittel Award to senior Christopher Bell and the Gerald G. Holmes Award to senior Brandon Dean.

Friends and family members in the auditorium, which is not air-conditioned, fanned themselves with their program, and two large fans provided some relief from the heat.

Walter Williams of Williamsport watched his youngest daughter, Jessica Williams, graduate with a specialty in early childhood professions.

"I accomplished it. I got all four through school," he said.

As they lined up for their processional into the auditorium, graduates said they felt excited and nervous.

"We get in this routine of going to school every day. For the first time in our life, we're going to be out on our own," said Amanda Hinkle of Hagerstown.

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