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Hedgesville grads reflect on eventful years

May 30, 2004|By CANDICE BOSELY

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Just a few weeks into their sophomore year, members of Hedgesville High School's class of 2004 found themselves watching history on classroom televisions.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, made them more proud to be Americans, but also marked the last time a more innocent group of people would be together, co-valedictorian Brandon Kerns said during the school's commencement ceremony Saturday morning.

The graduation ceremony, in which 281 students received diplomas, was held at Shepherd University's Butcher Athletic Center.

Beforehand, as students talked and posed for photographs, they reflected on the last four years. Some were eager to bid adieu to high school, while others seemed reluctant.

"I'm going to miss all my friends and basketball games and all the sports," said Jermainne McDowell, who plans to attend Hagerstown Community College in hopes of becoming a music producer.

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"It feels kind of weird that I'm actually (done)," he said.

For Kristin Kane, graduation was a time of jubilation.

"People say that's the best years of your life. I'm hoping it's not," she said. "I'm just ready to go."

Kane will be attending Shepherd. She has not yet decided on a major.

Seven students tied for valedictorian honors. Each of them - Amanda Dellinger, Brandon Kerns, Sarah Braswell, Emily Channell, Amanda Leggans, Paul Braswell and Ryan Okal - spoke.

Paul Braswell encouraged his classmates to realize that success is possible and to trust in themselves, even if the path they choose in life turns out different than expected.

"Reach for the stars," he said.

Others, including Okal, spoke of the importance of friends and family. He said his speech was supposed to focus on the future.

"Today is yesterday's future and the future of our last 13 years," Okal said. "Just look at all of our parents out there. We're not far from being them."

He told his fellow students to be the one others look toward and to leave a footprint in the earth long after everyone else has ceased walking.

For mother Marjie Moulton, the graduation marked the end of a chapter in the second of her four children's lives.

"Time flies by too quick, that's all I can say," she said.

Moulton's daughter, Elizabeth, already has a job lined up at a cardiologist's office.

"I think she's mature enough to go out and make it on her own," Moulton said. "And her faith will take her a long way."

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