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North seniors get their diplomas

June 08, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

It wasn't even 9 a.m. and the families and friends of the class of 2007 already were lined up outside the North Hagerstown High School auditorium for the 10 a.m. commencement.

When the doors finally opened, the well-dressed column moved slowly in from the muggy morning heat to the air-conditioned lobby and cafeteria.

Security was tight as ticketholders filed into the auditorium. One woman panicked when she realized she had left her family's tickets at home - they were denied admittance. Another said her graduate's tickets had been stolen and she had a note from the school office - they got in.

The 290 graduates marched in to the strains of Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" and were seated for their long-awaited trip across the stage.

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Salutatorian Matthew Amalfitano spoke of the importance of coming from good stock, while valedictorian Christianna Beachley urged her fellow graduates to choose a path to success.

Bernadette Wagner of the Washington County Board of Education gave remarks and assisted in handing out the diplomas to the graduates.

"I'm going to Hagerstown Community College for two years and then transfer to a four-year school so I can become a marine biologist," said Ashley Burson, 17.

As for the graduation experience, Ashley said she was so excited Thursday night that she couldn't sleep.

Flower sales were brisk - a fundraising project by the North High junior class, according to Vicki Nunamaker, who works in North High's office.

Roberto Racedo, the father of graduate Melissa Racedo, said he was so proud of his 18-year-old daughter that he only hoped he would be able to control the tears when she walked across the stage.

"It seems like only yesterday I was bringing this little bundle home and now she is a beautiful young lady," Racedo said.

His sister, Nixy Racedo, said she, too, was very proud of her niece, and praised the teachers who provided Melissa's education at North High.

Rick Reeder, a 1975 North High graduate, had a good seat to see his only daughter, Jennifer Reeder, walk down the aisle Friday morning.

"We're so very proud of her," Reeder said, speaking for his wife and Jennifer's stepmother seated by his side in the packed auditorium.

Others sat in the cafeteria and watched and listened to the ceremony on television screens.

Reeder said the decision to hold the ceremony inside the school instead of in the stadium meant each graduate could have four tickets instead of three.

"I told Jennifer I would hang from a light pole if I had to - I wouldn't miss this for the world," Reeder said.

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