St. Joseph graduates 15 seniors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Some professed to be a bit nervous, others said they were excited at the prospect of officially putting their high school years behind them.

Fifteen students received diplomas during commencement ceremonies Friday evening and are now officially St. Joseph High School graduates.

Asked if he was perhaps a bit sad at this life-altering change, Tom Nelson answered “a little.” He will, after all, leave behind young people he has grown up with.

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“Just the atmosphere here,” he said. “It’s like a family. We don’t have a lot of people. It’s a real personal atmosphere.”

His mom, Ann Nelson, was a bit sad, too.

“He’s the baby of the family,” she said. “I’m proud of him. He’s done well. They’ve all done well. It’s a good, close group.”

Aaron Whaley said he wasn’t nervous about the graduation ceremony but instead “looking forward to it.”

He had a practical reason for his ease.

“I don’t have to make a speech or anything,” he mused.

If some of the students seemed happy about graduation, some of their parents must be pleased as well: Three students received full, four-year scholarships to college. Rian Unger received an Academic Excellence scholarship and will study at Shawnee State University; John Riedel accepted a John Marshall scholarship to study at Marshall University and Matt Caldwell was accepted to Marshall as a Yeager Scholar. The scholarship puts Caldwell into a small and prestigious category: He is one of only 11 students to be named to the Yeager Scholars program this year. He was one of only 32 students who interviewed for the honor out of literally thousands who applied. He was selected earlier this year after a series of intensive meetings with Yeager Scholars judges.

“It was a whole weekend of formal breakfasts, lunches and dinners, eating with the judges,” he said. “All the candidates were trying to make themselves look good and you knew everyone there was really smart,” Caldwell said.

He will study mechanical engineering.

While some will stay close to home and attend colleges locally, others will venture into the world, carrying their Ironton heritage with them: Crosby Clyse will study drama and architecture at New York University, Whaley will study criminal justice at Ohio State in Columbus and Nelson, who has been called into the priesthood, will leave in August for the Franciscan University in Steubenville.