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Class of '09 Martinsburg High's largest

May 22, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- On Friday, 366 Martinsburg High School seniors moved their tassels and became the largest graduating class in the school's 131-year history.

The 2009 class was unlike any other to leave the school, Principal Regina Phillips said.

"There are 366 of you, 184 male, 182 female," she said. "You have one National Presidential Scholars Finalist. You have one national merit scholar. You have 65 PROMISE scholarship recipients. You have 33 suma cum laude students, 50 magna cum laude students, 49 cum laude students and 182 students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You have had fewer dropouts from the time that you entered the hallways of this school, and that means you value education."

The large crowd packed into Shepherd University's Butcher Center roared with applause as Phillips acknowledged the accomplishments of the class.

"I am so proud of her," Tracy Abercrombie said of her daughter Chelsea Mercer. "She is an inspiration."

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"I am so very pleased at how she has developed and matured into a young lady," Christopher Bailey said of his granddaughter, Kara Walker.

"He is my last one to graduate," Beth Allen said of her son, Nicholas Allen. "There is a bet going that I will cry before it is over."

For many parents, watching their graduate close this chapter of their lives was emotional. Some cheered, others cried, and some merely waved and zoomed in for that perfect photograph.

Bailey, a professional photographer, was able to move in closer than most to chronicle his granddaughter's big day as a special gift to her.

"You'll know when I see her, I just might get emotional myself," he said.

While parents gushed with pride and joy and nearly every speaker acknowledged Friday as the "day we never thought would come," the students said they could not wait to burst out the doors and get onto something bigger and better.

"I am anxious to walk across the stage and make this is my last full day as a student at Martinsburg High School," Michael Withrow said.

"I am going to find something fun to do," Taylor Winstead said.

"I'm going to make money and go to college," Nathan Winburn said.

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