McConnellsburg High School on Thursday graduated a small, but mighty senior class that was active in academic organizations, athletics, charities and musical pursuits.
Middle/High School Principal Todd Beatty reminded the 54 graduates of his words to live by — respect, responsibility, accountability and self-discipline.
“I could not let you go without hearing them one last time. Congratulations,” he said.
The graduates sang “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue and received awards amid speeches from the students with top academic standing.
Valedictorian Nicholas McClure talked about his favorite quotes from author Ayn Rand about walking down the road in front of oneself.
“No one can run through life,” McClure said.
Jessica Nero gave a speech with stories from elementary school, including talent show performances and recess antics.
“These memories are what I’ll cherish most when I leave tonight,” she said, later encouraging fellow graduates to “create bigger, better memories” in the future.
In her speech, Emily Watkins said everyone tried to “fit in” with clothes and attitudes during middle school.
“Today, I’ve discovered it’s much more enjoyable to just be yourself,” she said.
“Our parents and teachers gave us an opportunity to attend school. ... Now, that we are graduating, we must decide what path we want to take,” Salutatorian Dakota Deneen said in her speech.
Eighteen-year-old twins Becca Hahn and Ike Hahn are headed to California University of Pennsylvania and Allegheny College, respectively.
Becca Hahn said she could not believe it was already time for high school graduation. She said she would miss playing McConnellsburg sports, with that sentiment echoed by fellow athlete Drew Lake, 18.
Preparations for the graduation ceremony provided Jonathan Chilcote with an epiphany — he doesn’t want to work in a job where he has to wear a tie.
The 18-year-old fidgeted with his tie prior to the ceremony.
“It still feels like it’s choking me,” he said.
Derek Mellott, 19, said he most enjoyed his welding class. He hopes to start working Monday in manufacturing.
As she prepared for graduation, Courtney DeShong, 18, fondly remembered socializing at lunch and reading outside during English class.
“I think we’re a small community, but we have a great school and everybody has a good work ethic,” said DeShong, who will study radiography at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Watkins, 17, shared DeShong’s opinions about attending a smaller school.
“We’re small,” she said. “We’re underestimated in a lot of things.”