'Class that rebuilt Jefferson' graduates

Sunday's graduates spent all four years in Jefferson High School after new high school was built

May 27, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Jefferson HIgh School teacher aide Francine Kidrick helps senior Angela Mohr attach the white scarf that all the senior girls wear on their gowns Sunday at Jefferson County graduation exercises at Shepherd University's Butcher Center.
By Richard F. Belisle, Staff Writer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Anthony Cory Ham, a Jefferson High School senior, would have been the first in his family to graduate from high school if a tragic accident last month had not claimed his young life.

Instead, his cap and gown were presented to his mother and other family members in an emotional ceremony at the beginning of Jefferson High School’s 40th commencement exercises Sunday afternoon in Shepherd University’s Butcher Center.

Ham, 18, who died in late April when a gun he was handling accidentally went off, planned to move back to Indiana and pursue a degree in medicine.

“He had hopes of becoming an emergency room physician,” said Jefferson High Principal Howard Guth.

“Cory loved and admired his family, and will be remembered forever in their hearts. He will be greatly missed.”

Most of the 277 graduates of the Jefferson High School Class of 2012 were born in 1994.


Sunday’s graduates spent all four years in Jefferson High following the opening four years ago of Washington High School. The new high school opened up space in Jefferson High and allowed the district to convert the ninth-grade school building across the road from the high school into Wildwood Middle School.

Stephen Clarence Scott, vice president of this year’s National Honor Society chapter, stood in the line of seniors waiting to enter the gymnasium accompanied by the strains of “Pomp & Circumstance.” Draped across his shoulders and chest were sashes and medals signifying his high school years and accomplishments — National Honor Society, National Society of High School Scholars, summa cum laude, Kiwanis Club International scholarship and Spanish National Honor Society Community.

Scott will head to West Virginia University to study political science and prelaw, with a law degree as his ultimate goal.

He hasn’t decided between corporate or family law, he said. He’s attracted to the money in corporate law, but also feels a need to help people like his mother, who raised him as a single parent.

“She did everything on her own throughout most of my life,” he said.

His law practice might be a combination of both, he said.

Guth had high praise for the Class of 2012.

“Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint,” he said. “This class has learned to persevere better than most. I applaud your tenacity and your willingness to take all the changes which have taken place in the state’s curriculum and move forward to become one of the greatest classes that this school has seen. As you move on, take the lessons from the past to help you carve your pathway to the future.”

Class President Avery Mendzela talked about how the Class of 2012 would be remembered.

“We weren’t the class with the big blow-out parties or the best senior prank. We were different, a class that cheered each other on, that walked in the school each morning with hoodies and sweat pants and did not care how we looked. So, yeah, we won’t be remembered as glamour queens, either.

“We’ll be remembered as the class that rebuilt Jefferson, the first four-year class since the split of the high schools. We changed Jefferson and made a whole new place,” Mendzela said.

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