Hedgesville graduates 274

June 01, 2003|By RICHARD BELISLE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Nicole Lescalleet was determined to walk up the ramp by herself, without her walker, and get her diploma.

Lescalleet, 17, was one of 274 Hedgesville High School seniors who graduated Saturday morning at the Shepherd College Butcher Athletic Center.

She had back surgery four months ago.

"Monday was the first day in four months that she walked without her walker," Nicole's mother, Denise Lescalleet said.

After receiving her diploma, Nicole walked down the ramp and into the wheelchair her parents had waiting for her.

Sitting in the bottom row closest to the stage was Susan Cosenza of Falling Waters, W.Va. She was there with 14 friends and relatives - including 10 from New Jersey - to watch her daughter, Jessica Cosenza, 18, a special education student, graduate.


Jessica has been with the class since kindergarten, her mother said.

"She's probably the proudest child here," her mother said. "School's been great for her socially. She has a lot of friends."

One of Jessica's best friends is Maribeth Black, one of four valedictorians in the school's 102nd commencement.

Susan Lescalleet said things were different when she graduated from Edison High School in Edison, N.J., in 1979.

"I wore shorts and cutoffs to my graduation," she said.

The Hedgesville High administrators told the senior boys to wear shirts and ties under their blue caps and gowns and the girls to wear dresses.

"They were told that graduation is a formal affair, to get dressed and to have respect for what they accomplished," she said.

Johnette Jackson of Hedgesville came to watch her daughter, Keri, get her diploma. Jackson, who graduated in 1965 from Norview High School in Norfolk, Va., said she was much more protective of her two daughters while they were growing up than her parents were with her.

"Nowadays, you have to watch kids much more. It's just not as free as it was in the sixties," she said.

Jackson said she wished her husband, Donald, could have seen Keri graduate. A member of the Martinsburg Air National Guard, he's been on duty in Iraq since March.

"We don't know when he's coming home," Jackson said. "I'm real upset that he's not here today."

Janelle Poisal, senior class president, in remarks to her fellow graduates, said: "Yes, we've had our ups and downs. Now it's time to rejoice in the laughter, tears and friendships of high school.

"We watched our friends and siblings graduate. Now it's our turn. Now we start at the bottom of the ladder once again."

She urged the graduates to "aim for success, not perfection."

Black, in her address, said what the class takes from the past four years will shape their character for the future.

"Today is our final opportunity to look back on our experiences, good and bad," she said. "Starting today, we get our ticket to the show and adventure of life."

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