School's graduation is bittersweet

June 13, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

A white candle, lighted in memory of Robert Moore, burned on the steps of the Clear Spring High School auditorium stage as about 85 of his classmates waited to get their diplomas Thursday.

Moore, who died Dec. 28, 2001, as a result of a car accident, would have graduated with the Class of 2003.

Co-valedictorian Dustin Garret Reichard noted the absence of Moore and Karen Ann Worthington from the ceremony.

"Tonight we are two students short," Reichard told the crowd of about 600 people.

Worthington, 18, remained in the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore Thursday, after being injured in a car accident Tuesday.


A table outside the school auditorium contained a picture of Worthington and asked people to "please send a message to Karen," and on two large get-well cards people did exactly that.

Reichard said he and other students were confident Worthington would recover from her injuries.

And while Moore was not present in body Thursday, he was there in spirit and in the students' memories, Reichard said.

A candle was lighted by two students at the beginning of the ceremony.

The graduation program said: "The candle on the stage tonight is in memory of our friend and classmate Robert 'Bobby' Moore, Gone - But not forgotten."

"Courage is in each of us," co-valedictorian Lauren Marie Ebersole said during her remarks. That courage will be needed as they forge ahead, she said. "It will take courage to stand alone when we would rather be part of a crowd... It will take courage to benefit others and not always ourselves."

Reichard began his remarks by saying classmates offered him money to go to the podium and limit his speech to the remark, "Go, 2003," and return to his seat.

While he would disappoint those students by speaking longer than that, commenting in part on the importance of taking care of the environment he did end his speech by punching his fist into the air and saying, "Go, 2003."

In her remarks, graduating senior Ashley Mae Decker thanked school employees, friends and family, saying life would not be the same without their help.

"We made it," Decker told her classmates.

Reichard, Ebersole and Decker each received a certificate of merit, for which students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5. They also were members of the National Honor Society.

Some people shouted remarks as particular students received their diplomas, but the comment that drew the most attention, and laughter came from a woman who shouted "Thank God!" as a student received a diploma.

"It is quite a relief," graduate Stacey Cornwell said afterward. "I am going to miss high school. I practically lived here."

Cornwell said she cried each time Moore's name was mentioned during the ceremony. She praised the decision to have the candle present to remember Moore.

"He is in everyone's prayers, every day," agreed Stacey's twin sister, Alicia Cornwell.

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