Washington High School's first four-year graduating class receives diplomas

May 26, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Washington High School graduate Jamie "Trey" Abdella III, right, was first and last for his commencement Saturday afternoon at Shepherd University. He was a member of the first class to spend all four years at Washington High School and he was the last student to arrive at the Butcher Center just minutes before his class walked in.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Twins Allison and Olivia Lihou moved from Juneau, Alaska, to Charles Town, W.Va., two years ago, in time to spend their junior and senior years at Washington High School.

The twins joined 263 fellow seniors on Saturday afternoon at Shepherd University’s Butcher Center to receive diplomas as part of Washington High School’s first four-year graduating class.

Washington High School opened four years ago to take overcrowding pressure off Jefferson High School.

Senior Class President Molly Brielle Potter built a metaphor around the construction of their school, saying a building project “requires time, effort, dedication from everyone involved.”

As the school’s first four-year graduates, they built a “firm and trustworthy foundation. We were here from the beginning helping to establish brand-new programs, initiate clubs and build student leadership.”

The Class of 2012 constructed the walls “by creating new traditions and stepping into leadership roles,” Potter told her classmates. Such activities, she said, “allowed us to establish our own DNA that identifies Washington High from other schools. We leave behind a legacy in the programs we fostered.”

The Lihou twins, along with their mother, Mary Lihou, and grandmother, Cecilia Lihou, are Alaska natives.

Mary Lihou, a “single mother by choice,” said she and her girls moved to Jefferson County because of her job as a federal employee.

“The people are wonderful, and it’s neat to be able to drive from one state to another,” she said.

Olivia, who plans to become a graphic artist, is taking a year off from school. Allison is going back to Alaska to enroll at the University of Alaska in the school’s general studies program.

Wayne Snow, 17, of Charles Town, plans to study music education at Shepherd University. He hopes to teach in high school, he said.

“It’s where I want to be,” he said.

He has a four-piece rock band called A Run From Reality, which performs at area churches, clubs, community centers, “anywhere they’ll take us.”

Roger Mattei Jr., 18, walked up to get his diploma along with his classmates Saturday, but medical problems kept him homebound for all but his senior year. He graduated cum laude.

“I’m very proud of him,” said Jackie Shadle, his homebound teacher. “I worked with him for three years. He’s smart and he always stuck with it.”

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