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Dawson-Bryant class was ‘goal-oriented’

Stephen Church, right, takes a moment to pose for a picture with his friend Alfred Barton before the start of graduation Sunday at Dawson-Bryant High School.

COAL GROVE — As Marty Murphy adjusted his son’s graduation cap and gown one final time, the elder Murphy said he was reminded of a song.

“It’s the end of innocence,” Marty said, “just like the song says.”

Murphy’s son, Jake, graduated with high honors from Dawson-Bryant High School Sunday afternoon with 110 other seniors.

“I’m extremely proud and heart broken at the same time,” Murphy said.

Jake will head to Shawnee State University in the fall to study engineering. Like his father, he said he had a bittersweet feeling about graduating.

“I’m happy to get out of here,” he said, “but I hate to leave all my friends.”

Anna Bellomy waited with camera in hand to capture the moment in the gymnasium. Bellomy, a bus driver for Dawson-Bryant, said she is going to miss a lot of the graduating students that she has come to know.

“I’m glad they are going on to choose to become what they’ll become,” Bellomy said. “They are an excellent bunch of kids.”

Principal Steve Easterling said the class of 2011 was a fun-loving bunch and one he will miss after graduation.

“They seemed, this year, to be more goal oriented with their education and concentrated quite a bit on academics,” he said. Easterling also said they had fun playing practical jokes on one another.

Having known many of the students from his time as an elementary principal, Easterling said he had faith the graduates would be successful in life and gave them this advice: “Be careful in the decisions you make, you’re responsible now for your decisions. Take time when you’re making your decisions in life.”