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Pomp and circumstance: 368 graduate from Jefferson High School

By Staff | May 24, 2019

Three hundred sixty-eight students graduated from Jefferson High School on Sunday afternoon, during its commencement ceremony at Shepherd University's Butcher Center. A number of the student graduated with honors: 64 graduated cum laude, 50 graduated magna cum laude and 55 graduated summa cum laude. David Pennock

SHEPHERDSTOWN — It was the perfect Sunday afternoon, as 368 Jefferson High School seniors took their final walk as members of the student body. Graduation was held at the Shepherd University Butcher Center where recognitions were given, memories were shared and even tears were shed.

Prior to the presentation of diplomas, the Class of 2019 officers took time to address their classmates one final time, offering remembrances and words of advice and encouragement for what lies ahead. Class President Andrew Johnson began the comment portion of the day with recognition of all that the class, and school, had accomplished over the past four years. Johnson specifically recognized school organizations and all the projects taken on to benefit the community. He encouraged his classmates to keep the good work going into the future.

Class Historian Tabitha Sponaugle was given the opportunity to present the class scrapbook, recognizing whom she and her fellow officers saw as the most-deserving student to receive the honor.

“This young man has high academic standings but loves to have some fun,” Sponaugle said, as she named Ryan King as the recipient. King will attend the Coast Guard Academy in the fall.

Sponaugle went on to share that her slate of officers “don’t follow tradition very well.” With that statement, she went on to explain that in addition to presenting a scrapbook to the most deserving student, they also chose to present to a teacher – or a pair of teachers.

Jillian Andrews laughs, after receiving her diploma during the Jefferson High School commencement ceremony on Sunday. David Pennock

“Many of us had one of these teachers back in freshman year,” Sponaugle said. “And many had the other all four years. Today they will watch their eldest daughter walk across the stage with us.”

Sponaugle then called Mr. and Mrs. John and Dawn Lynch to the stage to receive the special scrapbook.

Alexandra Whalen, treasurer for the Class of 2019, spoke on the senior gift to Jefferson High.

“We have looked forward to graduation and we have all built relationships with people who have changed our lives and shaped as un individuals,” Whalen said. “There is one kind-hearted individual-one teacher who has a place in our hearts forever.”

To honor the memory of Mr. Robert Neff, who passed away last year, the senior class planted a maple tree on the front lawn of the school. In addition, they placed a bench and plaque to alongside the tree, “as he was always alongside us,” Whalen concluded.

Lidian Jannotta reacts, as he walks into the Butcher Center with his graduating class on Sunday afternoon. David Pennock

Principal Sherry Fitzgerald addressed the graduates, the first graduating class that she has seen complete all four years at Jefferson.

“You have been my traveling buddies since freshman year,” Fitzgerald said. “Together we found our way, figuring where we fit in.”

She likened their journey to the roller coaster rides they took together at the senior trip to Hershey Park.

“Similar to our day in the park, some of you know where you’re going; some will just strike out and find your way. Destinations known or unknown, the journey will be uniquely yours,” Fitzgerald said.

Many tears were shed and screams heard from parents, friends and family members as graduates made their way across the stage, shaking hands with multiple officials and teachers before returning to their seats, their journey complete.

From left, Max Gleason and Una Haines play "Pomp and Circumstance" on the French horn at the beginning of the Jefferson High School commencement ceremony on Sunday. David Pennock

“We cannot wait to see where life takes our daughter,” said Christy Higdon, of senior Caitlynn Higdon. “We are so proud of our big-hearted, God-loving, super organized (maybe a little OCD), talented, crazy, smart daughter,” Higdon continued. Caitlynn will continue her education at Shepherd University in the fall.

The journey the Class of 2019 concluded Sunday truly aligned with their class quote from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Ulani Heng walks out of the Butcher Center, after graduating from Jefferson High School on Sunday. David Pennock