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Forty-six graduate from county's smallest school

June 09, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HANCOCK - A solemn turn of a tassel made it official.

At that moment, 46 students became alumni of Hancock Middle/Senior High School.

Washington County's smallest public high school held its graduation ceremony in the school's auditorium Thursday. More than half of the graduates left the school with some form of honors.

Unlike most schools in the county, members of this graduating class probably have known each other since kindergarten, class valedictorian Elyse Marie Watson said in her speech.

In fact, it's hard for any student to remain anonymous in Hancock. The 361 students who attended Hancock Middle/Senior High School in 2006 comprise more than a fifth of the town's total population.

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"At least one person in town knows your name," Elyse said in her speech.

"It's impossible to be anonymous here," she said. "But we will have to be anonymous tomorrow."

That's the scary part, several Hancock graduates said. Many of them are moving on, attending schools in bigger cities away from family and friends, places where it's possible that nobody knows who they are.

"I'm glad it's finally over, but I'm sad the day has finally come," said Timothy Rollins, 17, who plans to attend Shepherd University and study graphic design.

For family members, the graduation was the first step toward letting go.

"Up until now, it was fun and innocent," said Otto Hennig, the grandfather of salutatorian Klara Shives. "They're going out into the world now."

Klara, who received at least 10 scholarship offers, will attend Gettysburg (Pa.) College in the fall.

Bonnie Fields stood beside her daughter, Brittany Fields, in the hall outside the auditorium 20 minutes before the ceremony. Brittany is the third daughter in the family to graduate, Bonnie Fields said.

"She's my baby," she said. "It's kind of happy, kind of sad. It's kind of like when they're all going to get married. Each one's different."

While the moment might have been bittersweet for mom, "little" Brittany was nervous as the moment she had been waiting for all year approached. While the thought of becoming a bona-fide adult might have been a bit daunting, Brittany said she had a plan.

"I'm going to cosmetology school," she said. "When I was younger, I always used to cut my Barbie's hair. I've always liked doing hair."

As the ceremony ended, graduates tossed off their caps and whipped out spray cans of funny foam. Proud fathers captured the scene with camcorders, while older sisters and brothers clicked away with their camera phones.

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