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Hedgesville High graduates 292

May 28, 2006|by RICHARD F. BELISLE/Staff Correspondent

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Heather Branson is headed to James Rumsey Technical Institute to learn how to drive a forklift. Marc Victor Arvantis-Arvon II is going to George Mason University to begin pre-law and international studies to prepare himself for a career in law and politics.

In between Branson and Arvantis-Arvon, 290 other class of 2006 Hedgesville High School seniors - headed for jobs, marriage, more education, the military - received diplomas Saturday morning at Shepherd University's Butcher Athletic Center before bleachers filled with parents and friends.

"Imagine a harbor filled with 292 gleaming ships, the work of 96 designers (faculty) over the past four years," said Arvantis-Arvon, president of the class of 2006, who compared the lives of his fellow graduates to ships heading out on their maiden voyage.

"You, my fellow graduates, are the captains of those luminous vessels ... look into the horizon. You see nothing but open water. Where will you go? You have the capability to maneuver your ship to your desired location."

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Continuing his seagoing metaphor, Arvantis-Arvon encouraged his classmates to "know your course ... do not spend time unaware of what tomorrow will hold ... plan each mile across your ocean of life."

Ashton Ramsburg, 2006 class treasurer, said the class bought a new eagle mascot for the school as its parting gift.

"This is the hard part," said Jordan Shultz, class vice president. "Cry if you feel the tears swelling up. Scream if that's the only way you think you can be heard, and smile when it's over because tomorrow is just another day. Goodbyes are never easy. They come so fast that one can never be fully prepared to let go."

In her remarks, Emily Cunningham, class secretary, urged her classmates to "choose to live without regrets, find joy in the simple things in life and find true happiness wherever your path may lead you."

Asked before the ceremony what he remembered most about his four years at Hedgesville, Arvantis-Arvon said, "It went by too fast. It was supersonic."

His uncle, Manny Arvon, is superintendent of Berkeley County Schools.

John Clayton Windle Jr. said he is heading for the Navy's nuclear school and hopes one day to serve aboard a surface vessel.

He remembers his high school years as "a lot of fun. I was a troublemaker. Whenever something went down, I was the first name they called."

Windle said he was suspended twice.

"Once because I had keys to the school. The other time I'm not going to talk about. But I'm smarter than most. I graduated magna cum laude," he said, pointing to the silver medallion dangling on a cord around his neck.

Hal VanMetre, Hedgesville High School assistant principal, was standing on the sidelines watching the ceremony. He praised the class of 2006 for its academics and its general behavior.

"They've all had a bump in the road over the four years," VanMetre said.

Before handing out diplomas, Hedgesville Principal Donald Dellinger told the seniors to "be successful in college, careers and family. Successful people make things happen. They force action and produce results."

The graduates wore proper clothes under the caps and gowns.

"Shirts and ties and dress shoes and no gum or they don't walk," VanMetre said of the graduates' attire.

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