CHARLES TOWN – To the sounds of the time-honored graduation processional, Jefferson County’s 22 GED students on June 3 marched into the Betty J. Roper Auditorium at Wright Denny Intermediate School to accept their diplomas.
Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Susan K. Wall welcomed the Class of 2013, including James Bennett, Shain Breeden, Thomas Cook, Stacey Hibbitts, Aaron Himes, Thomas Langley, Catherine Lightner, Andrew Palmer, Brittany Palmer, Leon Raney, Justin Richards, Keith Pierson, Jessica Rexrode, Tanner Russell, Judith Sanchez, Kenneth Shellenberger, Nathan Snyder, Shirley White, Amber Williams, Matthew Wilson, Nitika Wilson and Jessica Yazbek.
Daniel Zappia was absent because he was out of the country.
Wall told the graduates, each wearing a maroon graduation gown and cap and seated in the auditorium’s front rows, how proud the school system is of their achievements and then led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Martin Soltis, the county’s Coordinator of Career Adult and Community Education, introduced guests and congratulated the graduates.
Soltis reminded the group that a number of famous achievers had earned their GEDs, including actors Bill Cosby, Christian Slater, Michael J. Fox, Nicholas Cage, Angelina Jolie and Chris Rock; Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s restaurants; politican Ruth Ann Minner; Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton; and singers Waylon Jennings, Jerry Garcia, Pink and Eminem.
“That’s good company,” he said.
“One thing all of these famous people have in common is that they did not stop achieving after they received their GED,” he continued. “They went on to excel in their chosen careers. That is not to say that each of you will become famous, but it does say that each of you has that opportunity.
“Don’t make this the end; make it the beginning. The sky’s the limit. Dream big!”
Echoing a similar theme, Jefferson County Board of Education members Mark Osbourn and Larry Togans both encouraged the new graduates to continue their education.
Beth Rehberger, an English as a Second Language instructor, introduced one of the graduates who’d come to the United States from Mexico 12 years ago. Well-educated when she arrived, Sanchez didn’t speak fluent English and was unable to secure employment. Rehberger said that now, with her GED, Sanchez can apply for the jobs she wants.
Husband and wife grads Matthew and Nitika Wilson also testified as to the importance and significance of achieving their GEDs. The ceremony concluded with Wall, Togans and Osbourn presenting diplomas. Following the recessional, the graduates and their families and friends were treated to a reception in the school cafeteria. The event was put together by Monica Zeigler, Lori Soltis and Ellen Houston.
Each graduate also had the opportunity for professional photos of the big day. School board member Gary Kable took portraits of each graduate in their maroon cap and gown.
– Arthena Roper is the Cultural Diversity and Staff Development Coordinator.