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86th commencement for Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE — It would be another half-hour before the doors to Chesapeake High would open, but already there was a crowd of proud parents and euphoric students.

Almost everyone was toting a camera Saturday evening and families posed over and over trying to record digitally one of the rites of passage for the American teen.

The family of Jennifer Welch was no exception. Her father, Darrell Welch, complete with a paisley tie in the school’s signature purple, was snapping away.

“I’m really excited for her. She has worked so hard,” Welch said of his daughter.

This is his second Chesapeake graduation and in a couple of years there will be one more when his son crosses the stage to get his sheepskin.

“It’s kind of nostalgic. She has been involved with the band and we have had a lot of good times doing things,” he said. “We’ve shared a lot of things here as a family.”

Jennifer Welch intends to study art and music at Southern Virginia University with the goal of becoming an interior designer.

“I’m kind of glad all the hard parts of high school are over,” she said. “But I’m kind of sad. I’m leaving all my friends.”

It was the 86th annual commencement for Chesapeake with 91 students graduating. Dr. Mike Dyer, president of the Chesapeake Board of Education, presented the diplomas followed by the concert band and seniors joined in the Chesapeake Alma Mater.

Harrel Powell of Huntington, W.Va., was there to see his grandson, Ryan Reynolds, graduate and could see another side to all the festivities.

“I feel kind of sad at a graduation. It is kind of sad to me,” he said. “They have to move away from their school.”