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Class of '09 is Musselman's largest

May 22, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- Charles and Sarah Ware watched as their youngest son, Stewart Watson Ware, passed in front of them Thursday night at the Butcher Athletic Center at Shepherd University.

Looking resplendent in his green cap and gown, the Musselman High School senior and 321 of his classmates paraded by on their way to seats of honor . They made up the largest graduating class in Musselman history. In all, 129 of them graduated cum laude and higher.

Stewart's face broke into a sheepish grin and his right hand flashed a small wave when he spotted his family.

It was a monumental moment for his parents. Stewart, 19, is the youngest and last of eight children they have seen walk up a ramp for a high school diploma.

All of Stewart's older siblings graduated from Jefferson High School before his parents moved to Berkeley County. When it was Stewart's turn for high school, he attended Musselman.


Stewart's graduation "is just part of a progression through the years," Charles Ware said. "We've been very fortunate. We've been blessed with good, healthy kids who gave us no trouble."

The Ware children grew up on a beef-and-crop farm near Leetown, W.Va.

Catherine, the oldest at 45, is a nurse in Morgantown, W.Va. The rest of the Ware clan all have stayed in the area.

Stewart, who graduated through the James Rumsey Technical Institute program, will attend Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, W.Va., in the fall.

Charles and Sarah Ware have 26 grandchildren, several of which they already have seen graduate.

"When we get together for family gatherings, there's as many as 65 of us," Sarah Ware said. An average family dinner calls for buckets of fried chicken, a Ware gathering staple, and "35 pounds of mashed potatoes," she said.

There was no main speaker to lead the graduates into the future with inspiring, well-chosen words. Instead, the seniors themselves took over the task.

Rachel Cook started things rolling with a welcome to everyone in the gym.

"May 21, 2009. This is your day," Cook told her fellow graduates.

Challice Laing spoke to the theme the seniors selected for the day. Splayed across the graduation program were the words "Capturing Memories."

"Some are good, some bad," Laing said. "As we go our separate ways, we will leave friends behind, but not memories. This is the biggest day of our lives yet."

Brittany Marsh's remarks centered on the history of the class of 2009, from their first day as freshmen through their sophomore and junior years, then to their final year as seniors.

Erica Manor broke the news the class of 2009 left a row of trees to be planted on the campus as its gift to the school.

Taylar Moore presented the senior sponsor gift. Rachel Shows and Alexis Kumar introduced the choral group and instrumental ensemble, respectively. Both groups performed at the ceremony.

Jessica Pearson introduced Musselman principal Ronald Stephens.

"You've worked here since the fall of 2005," Stephens said. "I pushed and prodded you, and you responded as I expected. You pushed back. Along the way, it built character."

Stephens told the seniors they now are permanent members of the Musselman family. Graduation will be the last time they all are together.

"Take your memories with you," he said.

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