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Washington High School graduates first class

May 30, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- The first class of Washington High School graduated Saturday in Shepherd University's Butcher Center with cheers and tears from the crowd of family members and friends.  

Cathy Rowland, the class adviser, said she chose to move with the former Jefferson High School students to Washington High School when it opened in August 2008.

"I wanted to be their adviser," she said. "This group as ninth graders at Jefferson High School is just as special now. They've never changed.

"These are my kids. This is what I wake up for every day."

The class of 2009 has 161 graduates, each of whom received a long-stem red rose -- the class flower -- along with their diploma. 

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"It was a very classy graduation," said Ginny Harrison, mother of Jessica Harrison, the National Honor Society president. Jessica wrote and read the class poem, "The Box," as part of the ceremony. 

She is headed to West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va., to study exercise science, she said. Ian Harrison was so proud of his daughter he said, "I can't put it into words."  

Principal Judy Ann Marcus said, "This class is more than we expected them to be. It's a good day. They are leaders." 

Graduate Laura Barton said she plans to study nursing at the University of Charleston in the fall. She was in a wheelchair and was assisted to her seat before the class arrived.  

In February, she lost strength in her legs and is unsteady on her feet. She has been a home-bound student since February, she said. 

"There has been enormous help from the school and the home-bound teachers to get her graduated today," said her mother, Robin Wright. 

Barton said she has been to four hospitals without a diagnosis. She is scheduled to meet with doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore soon. 

Her uncle, Rob Wright, walked Barton to the stage, and Steve Morris, an assistant principal, walked with her to receive her diploma from Marcus. 

"I'm so happy to be here," said Wright, who flew in with his wife, DeNene, from Albuquerque, N.M. 

Barton's grandfather, Robert Wright Sr., came from St. Louis.

"It's fantastic. She's the oldest and the first child to graduate," he said. 

"It's very emotional. I'm so proud of her," said Janet Johnson, her grandmother from Ashburn, Va. 

Class secretary Eric Rozich said he will attend Shepherd University.  

"I'm incredibly excited and anxious (to graduate). I miss my old friends at Jefferson," Rozich said before the ceremony. 

Class president Amanda Dotson plans to study political science at Shepherd. She said her goal is to get her law degree and become a U.S. senator.

She told her classmates to give a big round of applause to their parents "for all they've done" and to the teachers and staff because, "We're sitting here today because of your hard work." 

Class vice president Danielle Saliba plans to study dermatology in the fall at the Von Lee International School of Aesthetics in Baltimore.  

In her address to her class, she said, "We've come today to end this chapter, and as the first graduates of Washington High School, we've set a foundation."

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