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Hedgesville seniors have their moment at commencement

May 26, 2007|By DON AINES

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - There is a certain sameness to the graduation ceremonies at the 25,000 or so high schools across America - the caps and gowns, the speeches, Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," tearful families snapping pictures - but it also is a moment in life that each graduate can call their own.

So it was for the 281 graduating seniors - from Kristopher Thomas Allen to Teddy Lee Winters Jr. - who received their diplomas Saturday during the 106th commencement of Hedgesville High School at the Butcher Center at Shepherd University.

"It's been the best time of my life. I've been waiting for this day," said Brittany Burkhart, a tear rolling down her cheek. She plans to attend college in hopes of becoming a pediatrician.

"I can't believe it's over. It happened so fast," said Leslie Miles, who will study to become a hairdresser. "You want it to end, but you don't. It's surreal."

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"It's overwhelming," said Leslie's mother, Rebecca Greenfield, struggling through her emotions to find the words. "It's almost like giving birth to her all over again ... She has made me so proud."

"It's awesome. It feels great," graduate John Grove II said. He plans to attend West Virginia Wesleyan College and study to be a physical therapist.

"I'm very proud of him. He's the last of three" to graduate, said his father, John Grove. "I'm looking forward to him going to college."

As graduation is a special moment for the students and parents, so it is for administrators and faculty, who play their role in this rite of passage each year.

"I work with these kids for four years," Assistant Principal Hal Van Metre said. "It's nice to see them mature and turn into successful members of the community."

"Don't hold back your passion for what you love to do. Pursue your dreams," senior class Chaplain Megan Elizabeth Casey told her classmates. "Each and everyone in this room has the potential to do great things."

Alisha Galbus had mixed emotions, looking both to the past and the future.

"It is bittersweet ... because you grow up with these kids for so long, but you're ready to start your life. You're ready to do other things, so it's exciting" said Galbus, who will study forensic science at Fairmont State University. "And if you know what you want to do, it's even more exciting."

Alexander David Walsh had a cheering section that included parents, grandparents, a brother and an aunt. More were waiting back home for the graduation party.

"He's graduating cum laude and her has a scholarship to Shepherd University next year," his mother, Wendy Walsh, said proudly.

"He's a very special person and quite a handsome boy," said his equally proud grandmother, Evelyn Powers.

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