Evening High grads persevere

June 01, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

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Maria McMellen's eyes stayed on her 16-month-old son for most of her high school graduation ceremony Thursday.

He was her reason to finish school, she said.

"He just helped me get through," said McMellen, 18, of Hagerstown.

She and nine of her classmates graduated from Evening High School during a ceremony at South Hagerstown High School. Principal Sherry L. Hamilton said about 60 other Evening High students will graduate this year at their home high schools.

McMellen left Boonsboro High School after learning she was pregnant. She enrolled at Evening High School and at the Family Center for two years.


After receiving her diploma Thursday, she said her plan is to continue being a good mom.

John Sines of Funkstown celebrated his birthday in his cap and gown. He turned 19 Thursday, and said he couldn't have received a better birthday gift than a diploma.

When Sines enrolled at Evening High, he had a job and said going to school at night made it easier to manage his work schedule. His goal now is to become a paid firefighter, a job for which he needed a diploma to be eligible.

"I think everything requires that now," he said.

Sines is a volunteer at the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., and said he already has completed many of the firefighting courses he'll need for that job.

Felicia Koons, 19, of Hagerstown, said when she dropped out of Smithsburg High School that she was going through some personal issues. She realized that was a mistake, and one year later, she enrolled at Evening High, where she's been for three years.

Koons said Thursday she felt like she had accomplished something, and now would like to enroll in beauty school.

Sarah Kelbaugh, 17, of Hagerstown, said she attended Evening High for one semester because she only needed one more course to graduate - English. Sarah said she had some attendance problems when she was in high school, but the teachers at Evening High offered her incentives to go to class.

On Thursday, she received an award for perfect attendance.

Joel Nava, 19, said the incentives to attend class at Evening High include chances to win gift cards. And they worked for him, too.

Nava, of Chewsville, said he's planning to attend Hagerstown Community College to become a licensed electrician.

Makesi Payne, 19, of Hagerstown, said he'll be going to HCC to study business, but he'll take some time off for the summer.

Payne said he got into "a little trouble" at South Hagerstown High School, and went to Evening High to get back on track. Holding his diploma Thursday, Payne smiled and said he had been able to do just that.

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