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Chesapeake grads take first steps into future

By Catherine Burcham

The Tribune


CHESAPEAKE ­— “It feels pretty good, a big accomplishment. It’s a stepping stone in your life,” Chesapeake senior Austin McMaster said.

McMaster and his classmates were ready to begin their graduation ceremony Saturday evening. While some of them nervously cracked jokes, others shared hugs and pushed back tears as they prepared to take those final steps as high school students.

“I’m actually pretty nervous, a little upset,” Austen Henson said as he sat at a table waiting with his friends. “It’s hard leaving everyone I grew up with, but I am excited about the future and everything that is to come.”

In the fall, Henson plans on attending Marshall and majoring in music.

Senior Benji Koletka said he didn’t feel nervous about the ceremony or what was to come in his future. He plans to head to Marshall and then possibly Ohio State. He wants to work with the Army Corps of Engineers.

“I’m just not feeling it yet,” he said with a smile. “It just hasn’t sunk in yet, feels like nothing has changed.”

Classmates Amanda Ruffner and Caitlin Heffner were having a blast before the ceremony, laughing and chatting with each other. Ruffner said she was very excited about graduating and that it had been a long journey but it was worth it. Heffner, also excited about moving on to her future plans, summed up her feelings on the day in just one word.

“Awesome,” she said.

Teacher Robin Kimball said watching the senior class leave was hard but she hopes they will know she is always there if they need her now and in the future.

“I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss the senior class. You establish a bond that will last for years and years and I am always here if they need me.”

Community members, parents, family and friends crowded into the packed auditorium. As the graduates walked down the aisle, onlookers snapped pictures while some quietly wiped their eyes.

Austin McMasters’ father, Steve, said he was proud of his son and his accomplishments. Before the ceremony, he reflected on some of his favorite moments from his son’s senior year: When he scored his 1000th point, when he placed sixth in regionals after only high jumping for six weeks and of course, he said, today.

“I’m just really proud of him,” he said.

Chesapeake High School Principal Troy Tucker said he was honored this was his first graduating class, at CHS. He said the class as a whole, was a very good group of well-rounded kids. The class contained a high number of honor graduates as well as showed a great deal of senior leadership in the sports arena.

“I’m really going to miss them,” said.