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Graduates show courage in face of loss

June 12, 2004|By JULIE E. GREENE

Charles Frisby used to talk to his daughter, Kasandra, about what her high school graduation day would be like, how excited she would be.

Kasandra Frisby said she was excited Friday morning as she prepared for the North Hagerstown High School graduation ceremony.

She also was a bit stressed, but she couldn't share any of those emotions with her father Friday because he died April 27 of a massive heart attack at age 47.

Kasandra, 17, of Hagerstown, said she got through the hard time, buckling down to finish her senior year, with the support of family and friends.

"I thought about it every day, but I just tried not to think about it as much so I could get through," Kasandra said.

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It takes courage to face the great joys, anticipations, sorrows and tragedies the graduates have faced and gotten through, valedictorian Benjamin R. Lloyd told the crowd of several hundred in North High's auditorium.

Some classmates have faced great losses such as a parent losing a job or the loss of a friend or parent, Lloyd said.

"All the people that we have loved and lost are proud of us this day," Lloyd said.

Kasandra's mother, Donna Sunderland, said she knew Kasandra's father would be proud of her and everything she has accomplished.

Mikael Tigrett, 17, of Hagerstown, also was facing graduation without a parent. Joann Tigrett died April 4, 2003, after a 12-year battle with cancer.

"She was always kind of excited about my graduation coming ... She was happy when she lived to see my brother (Ryan) graduate" in 2000, Mikael said.

She told Mikael, "I may not be here in the end, but I want you to have a good day and a good life and live up to your potential," he said.

"It's sad she can't be here, but I have to fight through it," he said.

Like many of his fellow graduates following the ceremony, Mikael wandered through packed hallways searching for his family and stopping along the way to shake hands and hug fellow graduates and friends.

He found his father in the gymnasium.

"I'm so proud, what he's accomplished and the adversity he's suffered ..." Lester Tigrett said.

Of North's 266 graduates, 251 were expected to walk across the stage to receive their diploma or certificate on Friday, school officials said.

With a packed auditorium that included several people standing along the back and in the aisles to watch, approximately 100 people watched the ceremony on two big-screen televisions in the cafeteria.

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