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IHS grads shine on big day

Misty Swinford sat in the stands at Tanks Memorial Stadium with her son, Connor Ramey. In less than an hour, another son, Corbin Ramey, would march onto the field and accept his diploma as a member of the Ironton High School Class of 2012.

“I think I’m more nervous than he is,” Swinford said. Waxing reflective, she added, “It feels like the end of something but I feel like it’s also the beginning of something.”

As Swinford waited in the stands, Ora and Maria Cotcamp, of Olive Hill, Ky., made their way toward the stadium, ready to watch their last grandchild accept her high school diploma.

“She’s the baby,” Maria Cotcamp said of Taylor Cotcamp. “She was 18 May 4.”

Just inside the high school, the 95-member Class of 2012 got in line inside the lower level hallway, more than a few with mixed emotions about the last day of their life as a high school student.

“It’s bittersweet,” Kaylee Sturgill said as she stood with her friend, Jonna Seward. “I’ll probably never see some of them (fellow students) again.” She will enter Kent State University in the fall and study pharmacy.

Seward pronounced herself excited.

“I’m ready to get this over with,” she said with a smile. She will study forensic pathology at Marshall University this fall. But even with an eager eye to the future, Seward remembered one Ironton teacher who made a profound impact on her high school years, John Distel.

“He helped me a lot. Any time I was having a bad day, he helped. I would not have made it even close to succeeding without Mr. Distel,” Seward said.

If Distel made his mark on Seward, she could be sure the graduating seniors left an impression on the Ironton High School faculty and staff.

Teacher Kristina Billing said she would remember the Class of 2012 as “spirited, outgoing, well rounded, awesome. They will be missed.”

Why did Billing think this class was awesome?

“They have always been leaders, even as underclassmen. They were willing to go above and beyond whatever we asked them to do,” she explained.

Principal Joe Rowe echoed her sentiment.

“They’ve provided good leadership and it made my job a lot easier,” Rowe said. He described this class as a “very, very solid class academically and athletically. I’m going to miss them.”