1 of 3 at Martinsburg averaged above 3.0


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SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - Lined up in alphabetical order Friday night for Martinsburg High School's 130th commencement, 18-year-old graduates Garrett Heck and Kaylor Hedges had a bit more in common than the first letter of their last names.

Both are planning to study dentistry.

"High five," Heck said as Hedges shared similar plans for the future.

"Yeah, dude," Hedges said before slapping hands in the hallway outside of Shepherd University's Butcher Athletic Center.

"This day is a milestone for me," Hedges said. "Mostly because I made it."

Heck and Hedges were among 309 seniors who made it, and most donned black gowns and caps and orange-and-black tassels for the walk Friday to a stage where they received their diplomas.

There, Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II and members of the Berkeley County Board of Education congratulated them.


The graduates' family and friends, poised with digital cameras, also were waiting. Cheers and clapping bounced around the gym as each name was read for the 291 students who reportedly participated.

Little more than one-third of the graduates finished high school with a 3.0 grade-point average or higher, said Martinsburg Assistant Principal Nancy Warrenfeltz, whose only child, Whitney, was among the highest achievers.

"I'm just excited about what the future holds for her," said Warrenfeltz, who at times had to fight back tears.

Student Council President Tara Petrucci was the first to speak, followed by Principal Kenneth L. Pack, who urged the graduates to thank their parents and those who helped them achieve.

"They pointed you in the right direction and helped you along the way," Pack said.

Class officers Franca R. Esposito, Amy S. Taylor, Margaret L. Power and Taylor C. Shepherd advised fellow graduates to "live life to the fullest" and not let obstacles stop them after the "turning point" of graduation passes.

"It hasn't really set in yet that I'm graduating," Heck said. "It just means that this chapter in my life has closed and it's time to start a new one."

The new chapters for Katie Jalazo and Fatoumatta Jallow will not include any more homeroom sessions together, but they did plan to celebrate Friday night.

Jalazo said she plans to major in early childhood education and study business management at Fairmont (W.Va.) State University. She hopes to open a day care when she graduates.

Jallow hopes to study medicine at Kentucky State University.

"This day means a lot to me because it's a step forward to achieving my goal," Jallow said.

Siblings Eboni and Darius McGhee also graduated.

"I love my brother," said Eboni, who will enter the U.S. Air Force in October.

"I'm going to Shenandoah University and play some football," her brother added.

Derek Walker has similar plans at Glenville (W.Va.) State College.

"I'm really excited to get out of Martinsburg and go to college," Walker said.

On the Web

Read about all the Tri-State-area graduations and view hundreds of pictures on our Web site at Just click on the Photo Store icon and click Graduation - Class of 2008.

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