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."