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County#039;s future leaders take big step

The class of 2005 from most area schools can now call themselves graduates.

Many of the high schools in Lawrence County celebrated the Memorial Day weekend by sending the leaders of tomorrow into the world.

Dawson-Bryant

The class of 2005 may have graduated, but the bonds of friendship will remain.

Sunday afternoon Dawson-Bryant High School graduates said goodbye to teachers and to each other.

"It's sad but exciting at the same time," Christina Childers, 18, said.

Childers said she will mostly miss her friends, but she will also miss some of the teachers.

With a graduating class of 97 students and 13 years behind them, there were plenty of people and much time to get close to one another.

Eighteen-year-old Heather Friend said as exciting as graduating is, she will also miss the people.

"I'm going to miss my friends and teachers," Friend said. "They're in my life."

Dawson-Bryant principal Dr. Brenda Haas has noticed these bonds.

"They're very closeknit," Haas said. "There are life-long friendships here."

Though friendships were made, some students recognize it is time to leave.

"It's just good to get out of school," Jeremy Dillon, 18, said. "It's been a long journey."

Derek Bazell, 18, also said he is glad to be out of school, but said he will miss playing football.

"We're proud of him. He's had to overcome a lot," Leigh Ann Bazell, Derek Bazell's step-mother, said. "His daddy would've been proud of him."

Both Derek Bazell's parents have passed away and he has been living with his aunt since 2002 when his father passed.

Another group has left the security of all that is familiar to step up to the challenge the world will put to it.

"It's an outstanding class," Haas said. "Academically, athletically, they've always stepped up to the plate."

- By Sarah Musgrave

Rock Hill

For months the Rock Hill school district has been swarmed by controversy after controversy.

There was no trace of scandal on Sunday, however. That was all put aside for a packed house giving the 2005 graduates of Rock Hill High School the hearty cheers they've earned.

Graduating senior Ashlee Zornes, one of almost 120, stood in a crowded hallway before the ceremony, straining her ears to hear those opening notes of "Pomp and Circumstance."

Scandal certainly wasn't on the mind of Zornes, she had her own problems to deal with, like keeping her mortarboard in place and an itchy throat.

"I feel very nervous, and my heart is beating very fast," Zornes said. "I don't want to trip, I don't want to walk in front of a bunch of people, my hat won't quit falling offŠand I have strep throat."

Despite her worries, Zornes was clearly caught in the same crackle of excitement as her other classmates. In fact, she found it hard to believe that the day had come so soon.

"I thought that high school would just be forever, and it flew right by," Zornes said.

Finally, the procession began, and Rock Hill students were treated to poetry by Summa Cum Laude graduate Erin Morris and a rendition of the Josh Groban hit "You Raise Me Up" by the Rock Hill Show Choir/Chorus.

And as the tears flowed and cheers echoed through the packed Rock Hill High gymnasium, it was clear that scandal was the last thing on anyone's mind.

- By Justin McElroy

Symmes Valley

Here's some good news for high school freshmen that have theirs eyes set on the top academic prize.

Being the valedictorian is easy.

That's the verdict according to Stephanie Powell, a Symmes Valley High School Valedictorian who graduated Sunday afternoon with over 65 of her fellow classmates.

"It was easier than I thought it was going to be," Powell said. "It wasn't that hard, I don't think."

As she straightened her friend Stephanie's tassel, Kristen Crabtree, graduating Cum Laude, was quick to agree.

"It was much easier that everyone said it would be," Crabtree said.

Besides being surprised at the ease of the experience, Powell was caught off-guard by how much she would miss those that shared it with her.

"The friendships are closer than I thought they would be," Powell said.

She shared the honor of being valedictorian with three other Symmes Valley students: Lori Harmon, Lindsay Long, and Craig Neal. Justin Holland was the salutatorian for the class.

"I'm excited and nervous and kind of sad, I don't really want to leave," Powell said. "Kristen's already cried today."

"Yeah, because of her," Crabtree added quickly, before the girls shared a sad, nervous giggle.

As Crabtree fussed again with her friend's tassel, and both seemed to fight back tears, it was clear that though high school may have been easy for Stephanie Powell, leaving her friends would truly be difficult.

- By Justin McElroy

Ironton

Ironton High School said goodbye to the class of 2005Sunday evening by handing out 113 diplomas to graduating students.

"They've proven great leadership," Ironton High School Principal Joseph Rowe said. "I think this group will go on to do great things in whatever vocation they choose."

The principal thinks highly of this graduating class but the new graduates seem more concerned about friends.

"I'm sad I'm leaving my friends. You've been with the same people for 13 years," said student body President Brandi Norris. "I'll miss high school definitely. I've had good times."

She said she was involved in almost every club so those good times were created by being active in school.

"I'm excited to leave," Chris Kellogg, 17, said. "This place is like a prison because we've been required by law to be here and go to class."

Not all of the graduates are as enthusiastic about leaving.

"School doesn't bother me," Ryan Wilson, 18, said. "You don't get to see half the people when you graduate."

Rachael Payne, 18, also said she will miss her friends but her reason is that she is going away to the University of Kentucky. She also said many of her friends are younger so they did not graduate this year.

Though it seems many IHS graduates will miss friends, they still have the summer to say their goodbyes before classes at various colleges begin in the fall.

- By Sarah Musgrave

Fairland

PROCTORVILLE - Those who attended Fairland High School's graduation could hear the excited cheers of seniors from down the hallway as they lined up to make their way into the auditorium on Sunday evening.

Fairland High School held their commencement exercises on Sunday. One hundred seventy three graduates received their diplomas. The ceremony began with a slide show of special class memories.

The class song, "Back of Your Mind" was written and composed by senior Matt Pritt, who received a standing ovation after his performance.

"It's bittersweet," Pritt said of graduating. He will be studying music composition and business at Marshall University in the fall.

Parents Lori and Fred Spears were excited about their son Andrew Spears big day, and they are very proud of the plans he has made for the future. Spears has joined the Navy and will be leaving for boot camp in February.

"Were thrilled and very proud," Lori Spears said.

Superintendent Jerry McConnell said that he is happy about the fact that they had such an eventful class night, giving awards to seniors in both academic and athletic areas.

The gym was at full capacity for the event, and visitors could also watch the ceremony on closed circuit television, which was set up in the cafeteria.

"This shows the community's support," he said.

As the seniors prepared for graduation, and their steps into the world, senior Brad Malone said that he was "pretty pumped" and while he is glad to get it all over with, he is "ready to take the plunge out into the real world."

- By Catherine Burcham

South Point

SOUTH POINT - As family and friends filed into the gymnasium on Sunday, seniors chatted excitedly in the cafeteria while they prepared for graduation.

One hundred and five students graduated from South Point High School on Sunday afternoon, in front of a packed auditorium. Class Salutatorian was Latisha Koukos and Valedictorians were Evan Hunt and Anna Keffer.

Assistant Principal Eddie Scott said that he is very proud of the school's 105 graduates, as they prepare to move out into the world.

"I'm nervous about making my speech," Latisha Koukos said before the ceremony began. Kuokos remembered her family, teachers, coaches and friends during her speech.

Bo Laymen rented a limousine complete with a red carpet, to escort his daughter Amber Laymen to and from the graduation. Laymen said that his daughter is going to go into nursing after graduation, and she has been working since she was 15. Laymen said that he was very excited about his daughter's special day.

"It's great, she's a special kid," he said.

Many students admitted that they thought graduation was bittersweet. Although they were happy to be graduating, many were sad that they wouldn't see their friends every day.

"It's exciting but sad," said senior Sarah Kline. "I'm not going to see a lot of friends for a long time."

The class of 2005 lost a friend and classmate Eddrick Clark last week, who was certainly on the hearts and minds of many on this very special day.

- By Catherine Burcham

Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE -Chesapeake Seniors took one last walk down the hallway as high school students on Saturday.

Chesapeake High School class of 2005 graduated on Saturday as 96 students received their diplomas in front of family and friends.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world to be graduating this year," said Zach Ellis. Ellis said that he was in a car accident this year, and has worked very hard to make up his classes so he could graduate on time with his class.

Students were very excited about graduating as they spent time with their friends and family before lining up to enter the gymnasium.

"I think we've all been waiting for it for a really long time, 13 years," said senior Jenny Garrett. "It's finally here."

Senior Brittany Wells agreed and said that although graduation was "kind of sad" it was time for the seniors to move on with the next part of their lives.

- By Catherine Burcham