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160 graduate from Washington County Technical High School

June 04, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Click here for more photos of this and other Tri-State area graduation ceremonies

HAGERSTOWN - She was the shy, quiet freshman at North Hagerstown High School.

But on Tuesday, confident and outgoing, Hannah Barton graduated from Washington County Technical High School. She gives a lot of the credit for her transformation to her classmates.

Hannah was one of 160 students to graduate Tuesday at Hagerstown Community College. It was the largest graduating class in the high school's history.

She said students at Tech High are a "tight knit group" and operate like a family. It was easy for her to come out of her shell when she arrived there as a high school junior, she said.

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"Everyone comes in as a new kid," Hannah said of the school that enrolls only juniors and seniors.

While the class of 2008 had that in common with other groups of students that graduated before them, this year's graduates stand out in other ways, Principal Jeffrey Stouffer said.

The students had a high attendance rate at school, and no students dropped out in their last year of high school. Seventy percent of the school's graduates are going on to higher education - the highest percentage in the school's history, Stouffer said.

The 2,100 parents, family and friends who attended Tuesday's graduation ceremony also set a record.

While James Banks said graduating Tuesday is the best memory of his high school years, others said they'll remember the laughter, friendships and fun.

Anthony Spinner said he'll miss eating lunch with his friends.

"When we would talk, mess around, be loud ... be kids," said Anthony, who will attend Hagerstown Community College in the fall.

Smiling, standing with her armed linked with a friend's, Amanda Spigler said she'll miss her friends the most. She plans to stay in touch with many while she's attending Hagerstown Community College and studying business administration.

"There's going to be a lot more responsibility," Amanda said of life after high school. "I'm starting a new school and a life in college. Things are going to get a little bit tougher."

Washington County Board of Education Member Wayne D. Ridenour, who spoke during the graduation, congratulated the graduates and wished them continued success.

"Never be afraid to succeed," he said. "Never be afraid to fail."

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan also attended.

For Matthew Clifford, graduating from Washington County Technical High School was a family tradition. His mother graduated from the school, as did his brother in 2000 and his sister in 2004. Standing in line with his fellow graduates, running his fingers along his maroon gown, Matthew looked calm.

"I'm kind of nervous, and a little excited," he said. "I may not look it, but I am."

Anthony was emotional before the ceremony, and said he'd likely end up crying before it was over.

Others were looking forward to the end result.

"I'm excited," said Amy Cochrane. "I just can't wait to get this over with."

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