Jefferson High School's class of 2013 paraded across the stage at Shepherd Univeristy's Butcher Center May 25 completing one phase of their lives but ready for the next.
Sydney Holliday, of Shepherdstown, shared that graduation to her is bittersweet.
"High school was amazing, all four years," she said. "I met people from different schools who I will know will be lifelong friends."
Holliday will continue her education at Shepherd University this fall where she will meet up with several of her Cougar classmates.
Blake Johnson, who plans to major in business with a minor in finance at Shepherd, is excited to move on the college and start a new chapter of his life.
A Cougar baseball player, Johnson looks forward to donning a Rams jersey and continuing with baseball.
Also a member of the Cougar baseball team, Harpers Ferry's Andrew Grove looks forward to heading to Shepherd in the fall.
"To be finished with high school is a bittersweet for me. I will miss my high school days but have made many great memories that will remain with me forever. I am ready to move on and begin the next chapter in my life," Grove said. While he will miss his friends, teachers and most of all, Cougar baseball, Grove is excited to move ahead.
The students shared memories, hugs and tears at Saturday's ceremony. The class selected "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts as their class song which was performed by students. They chose maroon and gold as their colors, the white fugi mum as their class flower and "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined," by Henry David Thoreau as the class motto.
A.J. Boyd, 18, of Leetown, was one of the 296 students who accepted his diploma from Principal Howard Guth.
"I am looking forward to my future at Shepherd, but will definitely miss my high school years," Boyd said. "I have a lot of good memories at JHS!" Boyd will also attend Shepherd in August and said that he will miss baseball, some teachers and many of his friends who will leave for different colleges.
Counselor Bill Blair called this graduating class "outstanding" as so many of the students graduated with honors. Forty of the group graduated summa cum laude, 56 magna cum laude and 55 cum laude, he said.
While many of the students saw the ceremony and the end of their high school education experience as exciting yet sad, Dusty Wilt, of Kabletown, explained, "I was 'finished' with high school several months ago. Don't get me wrong," he said, "I will miss my high school experiences, but I am really looking forward to starting my college education and deciding what I am going to do with the rest of my life. Wilt will attend Shepherd University in the fall.