WATERFORD-After 13 years of school it's difficult not to be a bit teary-eyed when graduation day arrives, Waterford High School senior Michaella Webster noted as she and classmate Nicole Tucker gave each other a hug prior to receiving their diplomas Sunday afternoon.
"It's exciting, but also an emotional day for us," she said.
Her mom, Candy Clark, agreed.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Waterford High School grads and good friends Michaella Webster, left, and Nicole Tucker hug before going onstage to accept their diplomas during commencement exercises Sunday afternoon.
"You raise them for 18 years-the time flies by-then you come to this very big turning point in their lives," she said. "Now she's going to be moving on, and I'm very proud of her."
Webster said her next step will be to attend the medical assistant program at Washington State Community College in the fall.
She was among 69 members of Waterford High's Class of 2013 who graduated during Sunday's commencement ceremonies in the Cooper Annex gymnasium at Waterford Elementary School.
At a glance
About the Waterford High Class of 2013
Class motto: "Party hard, rock and roll, we're the class you can't control."
Class song: "Where I Come From" by Montgomery Gentry.
Class colors: Pink and silver.
Class flower: Rainbow rose.
Valedictorian: Alan Brooker.
Salutatorian: James Whalin.
"It's a pretty big class for us. I can remember some graduating classes when I first came here that only had maybe 35 students," said Waterford High principal Randy Shrider.
He said 45 of this year's graduating class are headed for college, four will enter military service, and a total of 14 seniors were receiving diplomas with honors.
"And our seniors are graduating with a little more than half a million dollars in scholarships this year," Shrider added.
Addressing his fellow graduates, class salutatorian James Whalin encouraged them to strive for success.
"Each of us is different, and our successes will be different, too," he said. "And it's totally up to you to turn life's possibilities into realities."
Valedictorian Alan Brooker said the grads were celebrating the completion of one of life's big milestones-graduating from high school.
"Enjoy this moment-it only happens once in a lifetime," he said. "We're done with high school, but now the next chapter of our lives has begun."
He urged his classmates to "strive each day to become a better person than you were the day before."
Grads joined family and friends in the hallway outside the gymnasium following Sunday's commencement, including Brenden Harra and friend Janelle Pugh, both of Waterford.
"The time has gone by pretty fast," Harra said. "I'll probably miss school a little-mostly my classes at the career center."
He plans to work at a telemarketing job over the summer, but is considering taking on an apprenticeship with the electrician's union this fall.
Pugh said she's also been studying at the Washington County Career Center.
"I'm going into a second-year plumbing and pipefitting apprenticeship this fall," she said. "I'm already working at Pioneer Pipe."
Still Pugh said graduation day is a little sad.
"I'm happy I have a job, but there are so many others who are going away to college, and we'll miss them," she said. "But I also think eventually they'll come back again."