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Clear Spring graduates celebrate

June 10, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

CLEAR SPRING

andrews@herald-mail.com

As Clear Spring High School's graduating class filed out of the school auditorium Thursday, Gloria Cunningham clutched a camera in her right hand and watched for her daughter.

In her left hand, she held two homemade leis that were noticeable for their greenery: cash was folded in.

"It's a tradition in Hawaii," where she's from, she said.

She said it took her six hours to make the leis, which contained about $200.

Finally, Leilani Cunningham emerged from the crowd. Her mother draped one lei around her neck and one on her head, like a crown.

Leilani enjoyed the moment, but wasn't sure what will come next. Work? Yes. College? Yes. The specifics? She didn't know.

"I want to be a lawyer," she said.

Leilani was one of 97 graduates celebrating the end of their high school years Thursday.

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They marched in and departed as "Pomp and Circumstance" played.

In between, student speakers, Principal Michael Shockey and school board member Bernadette Wagner offered congratulations and inspiration.

"The journey has been long, but we have succeeded," Class President Holly B. Smoot said.

Tracee C. Haupt, one of the student speakers, said a harsh world can steal one's soul. She encouraged her classmates to be open-minded and to believe they can conquer challenges.

Quoting writer George Eliot, she said, "It's never too late to be what you might have been."

Another speaker, Danielle K. Shives, used a topic she knows - professional wrestling - to comment on the high school experience.

Drawing chuckles from the crowd, Shives talked about tag-team wrestling matches in which tables, ladders and chairs are used as weapons. People might - figuratively - hit you with chairs when you make progress, but allies step in to help, she said.

The third speaker, Sasha D. Dunn, said the class has matured and is ready to step out on its own.

"Today is the day that we begin to take responsibility for ourselves," she said.

Garrett Wright said he's headed to Frostburg State University to become a history teacher. He said he was inspired by a history teacher he liked, Jim Hutson.

Not every graduate was a senior. Melissa Gogan finished after her junior year.

Asked if that was difficult, she said, "No, not really" - other than bouts of stubbornness and procrastination.

Gogan will study criminal justice and psychology at Hagerstown Business College, starting this summer.

Diane Gogan was happy to see her granddaughter graduate. "We came 850 miles," she said, coming from near Augusta, Maine.

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