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Almost 300 get diplomas at Martinsburg commencement

May 27, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - They stood in a corridor behind the auditorium of the Butcher Athletic Center at Shepherd University Friday night waiting to be introduced as the 2006 graduating class of Martinsburg High School.

Some talked and fidgeted and some stood quietly, while others fussed over the drape of their tassels. But as the school's 128th commencement exercises opened and the nearly 300 students from this year's class, all wearing black caps and gowns, filed one by one amid the din of cheers into the center, broad smiles began to creep across their faces.

They were doing what 17,000 students had done before them, they were reminded, but this evening was theirs.

Principal Kenneth L. Pack told the students to thank their parents who brought them this far, and encouraged them to be mindful of their life's direction.

"Every path you take will have a purpose, so choose your path wisely," Pack said. "Love what you do. Be good at what you do. Be proud of what you do."

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Students were presented with their diplomas by the members of the county's Board of Education, who greeted them with smiles, handshakes and hugs.

The ceremony also recognized the class's more than 100 top scholars.

When the presentation of diplomas was completed, the students stood up, lifted their tassels across their caps and heaved them into the air. Within a moment, a beach ball appeared and was batted around by outstretched hands.

After the ceremony, summa cum laude graduate Evan Thomas posed for pictures with his friends, arms around each other's shoulders. He said he enjoyed seeing his fellow students as classmates one last time.

Thomas, who said he had spent his whole life in the Berkeley County school system, beginning at Opequon Elementary School, said his plans include leaving in the fall to study engineering at Virginia Tech.

"But first, I'm going to hang out with my friends while I'm still here," Thomas said.

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