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Hancock High principal says graduation a 'community celebration'

June 06, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

HANCOCK -- When Chris Weller finished her high school years, she headed straight into adulthood.

She left home, got married and got a job in nursing - all within a few years.

Those were the right choices for her, she said.

And that's what she's wishing for her son.

"I want him to be happy," Weller said. "I know he can do anything he wants. He's a very determined boy. And I'm a very proud mom."

Weller's son, B.J., was among 51 students at Hancock High School who received their diplomas during commencement ceremonies Thursday night in the school's auditorium.

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Principal Eric Michael said the 2008 graduation was "truly a community celebration."

"Because we are a small school, there is a real tight bond among the students," he said. "They've grown up together, they've gone to school together and their families know each other. There's a very special connection."

"This is a wonderful, unique and talented group of students," Assistant Principal Larry Smith said. "They've accomplished so much academically, and we're proud to have provided the foundation. Now, we're excited about the great things they will go on to accomplish."

Among the graduation speakers were Lacey D. Watson and Danny T. Mauk, the class co-valedictorians.

Watson congratulated her fellow classmates by saying, "there were times when we thought this day would never come. We knew eventually we would have to step into the real world, and it's going to be hard."

But she encouraged the graduates to look at it as a new experience and new opportunities and to never give up.

Mauk said "we are here tonight to celebrate the most epic journey we will ever embark upon."

"It doesn't seem too long ago we were in elementary school. Then, we became freshmen," he said. "Thirteen years never have gone by so fast."

But the experience was priceless and unique, Mauk said.

"School is more than a place to get an education. It's about the people you meet and the experiences you share. We're graced with a lifetime of memories."

Garrett T. Rinker was salutatorian.

Sitting in the last row of the auditorium, Chris Weller reflected on her son's high school years and admitted he was never interested in school until he began playing basketball and football.

"Then, he changed his attitude," she said.

"He faced a lot of obstacles along the way, but he turned things around," she said. "And he did it against all odds. So to say that I'm proud is an understatement. When he walks across that stage, I'll be standing and cheering."

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