Musselman High School principal offers advice to grads

Holly M. Kleppner says communicate and 'surround yourself with positive influences'

May 24, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Yaris Mason, right, gets a hug from Musselman High School classmate Nichole Henderson after getting their diplomas and continuing the school's tradition of each student moving the tassel of another student on stage. Musselman held its 2012 commencement Thursday at Shepherd University.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Musselman High School principal Holly M. Kleppner had “two pieces of advice” for the Class of 2012 before graduates received their diplomas Thursday night in the Butcher Center at Shepherd University.

“No. 1 is to communicate,” Kleppner told members of the graduating class, her first as principal.

“No. 2, surround yourself with positive influences.”

Kleppner also encouraged the graduating class of 317 seniors to persevere, a characteristic of the group that she said she found to be “most exceptional” about them.

While no class valedictorian is named, Kleppner noted that 147 graduates finished with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.

Nichole Henderson, who welcomed friends and family members of the graduates to the southern Berkeley County school’s 63rd commencement, finished among the highest academic achievers in her class with a 4.5 GPA.

“My favorite time at Musselman was playing sports, basketball and track and going to (the state championships) for them,” said Henderson who received a basketball scholarship from Wilberforce University in Ohio, where she plans to study broadcast journalism.


Henderson of Bunker Hill, W.Va., and fellow graduating senior Andrew Carroll said they were part of a group of students that started a broadcast program at Musselman High.

Carroll, also of Bunker Hill, said he intends to teach in rural Appalachia after finishing college at Davis & Elkins College.

Carroll, along with classmate Nicholas Tabidze, presented the class’ history.

“When we started school, cell phones were something only people on the go had, iPods didn’t exist and we had to dial up to get on the Internet,” Carroll recounted.

“TV was TV, and HDTV, DVR, and 1080p didn’t mean a thing to us.”

Among the graduating class’ achievements, Carroll noted some members were part of a group that made the school theater’s “stage combat team,” which allows students to be properly trained on how to use stage guns, pyrotechnics and the performance of fights, falls and flips.

“I’m certain we’ll see some of our friends on stage, in a movie, singing in a band or realize that one of our fellow Applemen designed that really cool logo on that cereal box,” Carroll said in prepared remarks.

Tabidze noted some of the graduating class’ success in sports in the last four years, highlighting the school’s two state championships in volleyball and two runner-up titles.

“No matter where we go in life, we will remember our time spent in the halls of Musselman,” Tabidze said.

“We’ll remember winning the spirit stick countless times. We’ll remember our individual achievements, but more importantly we’ll remember the times when we came together and stood as one.”

Jeff Gillis, who presented the gifts the graduating class made, said he would remember his chemistry teacher, Peter Padula, who “sparked” a lasting interest in chemistry.

“I just loved it,” said Gillis, who plans to become a chemistry teacher after majoring in secondary education and playing football at Geneva College.

Gillis, who served as Student Council secretary, said the graduating class gave three gifts after they were unable to decide upon one.

The class contributed toward the purchase of a new wireless projector for the auditorium, painted the school crest outside the auditorium and made a $250 donation to the American Cancer Society.

“We have had students and teachers alike fight the horrific battle against cancer,” Gillis said. “As a class we have always been there to support and help in anyway we could. But as we graduate, we wanted to show that we wouldn’t graduate from caring and supporting those in the fight against cancer.”

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