McConnellsburg High School Graduates 54
Amidst the tears, embraces and smiles, McConnellsburg High School’s Class of 2012 led by valedictorian Nicholas McClure and salutatorian Dakota Deneen made their final stage appearance last Thursday evening before a packed house of family and friends.
Deneen, the daughter of Greg and Chaun Tel Deneen, led off the special commencement ceremony sharing a quote from Archimedes. “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth,” quoted Deneen of the famous Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer.
“It means that with determination, confidence and perseverance, anything is possible. I stand here in front of my classmates today not because I was the most popular, or the best speaker, but because I persevered through high school and took my academics to the 212th degree,” Deneen told the crowd. “ ... Our parents and our teachers gave us the opportunity to attend school and acquire an education, our ‘place to stand,’ and now, class, it is our turn to take matters into our own hands and ‘move the Earth.’”
In addition to serving as salutatorian for the Class of 2012, Deneen was vice president of her class and the National Honor Society, and a member of SADD, chorus and district chorus, yearbook and student forum. She also played a multitude of sports, including soccer, track and field, softball and basketball.
Emily Watkins, who finished out the year with the third-highest grade point average in the class, referenced the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost as part of her moving graduation speech.
“Our life journey is something that is continuous. We are constantly on our path. We chose our own roads to follow and that is something that can never be taken away,” said Watkins, the daughter of Ray and Kim Watkins. “As we have all journeyed through our high school career, I think we would agree that we have transitioned to young adults. We have become who we are. As corny as it may sound, I feel like that has been my biggest transition, finding out who I truly am.”
As they accepted their diplomas, turned their tassels and stepped off the auditorium stage, Watkins urged the Class of 2012 to follow their hearts and make their dreams a reality. “Just remember nothing comes without hard work and dedication. No matter what you are doing after graduation, make it a point to exceed what is expected of you,” she said.
Watkins was secretary for the class and took part in the National Honor Society, chorus, ensemble, yearbook, FFA, SADD and musicals. She also participated in volleyball, track and field and cheerleading.
Meanwhile, Jessica Nero, the daughter of Tina Hall and Paul Nero, announced she didn’t go to school to wear an unflattering cap and gown or to even learn that force equals mass times acceleration, but the memories she accrued with her 53 classmates are what she will cherish the most upon graduating.
Nero, who had the fourthhighest scholastic ranking in the class, stated, “Although we are all going our separate ways, we all have something in common. We all belong to the McConnellsburg High School Class of 2012. We all share many great memories from the time we started elementary school to this moment right now. I hope that you can all cherish these memories as much as I do. More importantly, I hope that every single one of you can create bigger and better memories in the future.”
In high school, Nero participated in volleyball, cheerleading, track and field and was also a member of the National Honor Society, yearbook, band front and SADD.
Nicholas McClure, class vale- dictorian and son of Don and Kathy McClure, took to the podium to share some inspirational words from American novelist Ayn Rand - “People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk.”
McClure told his classmates they should not go whenever they want but wait for the perfect moment. He urged them to look straight and pay attention to help determine when that right time is. Gordon reminded the class to walk, not run or sprint.
“The speed is important because life is long, and we have to pace ourselves. No one can run through life. Not only will you become tired, but you will miss things along the way. According to Rand, walking is the appropriate speed because you are moving forward and in the right direction, but you can also enjoy everything life has to offer,” he said.
While in high school, Mc- Clure was senior class treasurer, president of the National Honor Society and yearbook editor. He was also a part of five school musicals, band, chorus, chorus ensemble, Odyssey of the Mind and the Envirothon.
Nineteen scholarships and awards were given out during the May 31 commencement service. Mc- Clure received several of those prestigious awards, including $1,500 from the Chester J. Creager Memorial Scholarship; $2,500 from the Marion Hess Sprenkle Scholarship; $100 through the Beta Sigma Phi Scholarship; and a Distinguished Graduate Award.
Deneen wrapped up graduation as recipient of the Harrisonville Fraternal Order of Eagles $1,000 scholarship; $600 from the American Legion Post #561 Scholarship; the Helen I. McLaughlin Scholarship ($550); Fulton County Medical Center Foundation Scholarship ($500); and the Distinguished Graduate Award.
Classmate Tyler Branche was presented with the Striving to Educate People Scholarship as well as $100 from the Mc- Connellsburg Wom-an’s Club Special Achievement Award, while Marleigh Jennings took home the Robert E. Swadley Scholarship totalling $500 and an additional $750 from the Central Fulton Education Association Scholarship.
Nicole McQuade received $2,500 from the Marion Hess Sprenkle Scholarship and the Helen I. McLaughlin Scholarship in the amount of $550. Classmate Cole Johnston received $1,000 from the Manitowoc Co., and the Mc- Connellsburg Woman’s Club presented a $500 scholarship to Kimberly Schaeffer.
Isaiah Hahn and Rikki Green were the respective recipients of the Community State Bank and Lois Stevens scholarships. Both scholarships totalled $1,000. Justin DeShong was awarded $500 through the VFW Citizenship Award, and the C. Owen Fries Scholarship in the amount of $900 was bestowed upon Jessica Nero.
Zach Sherman and Summer Plessinger both received $500 after having been awarded their respective scholarships through the Fulton County Medical Center Foundation and Allegheny College of Maryland.
Diplomas were presented at the conclusion of the graduation exercise by Cory Gress, Central Fulton School Board president.