Belpre High School's gymnasium was packed with family, friends and faculty as the Class of 2014 took the stage during commencement exercises Sunday afternoon.
Keynote speaker and teacher Erica Wright, a graduate of Belpre High herself, told the class to be aware of the ways their lives influence others.
"Keep aware of the impact you're having on other people, and also on the impact they're having on you," she said. "And remember, your life is a garden, but you need two hands to dig it."
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Robin Rice gets a big hug from daughter Mackenzie, senior class president of Belpre High School’s Class of 2014, following commencement exercises at the school Sunday afternoon.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Salutatorian Brennen Farrell, left, and valedictorian Jacob Buskirk received plaques from Belpre Superintendent of Schools Tony Dunn during 2014 commencement ceremonies in the Belpre High School gym Sunday afternoon.
Wright noted that approximately 11,840 students have graduated from various Belpre area schools since 1873, and the 74 members of the Class of 2014 are the latest in that long line.
Principal Dennis Eichinger announced the 11 students who were graduating with the highest grade point averages in the class, including Jacob Buskirk, Jacom Coffman, Brennen Ferrell, Lacey Green, Anna Hall, Dallas Hickman, Maria Inghram, Kelsey Johnson, Corey Miller, Mackenzie Rice, and Kevin Ruble.
Eichinger said each of the top students were given gold cords to wear during the ceremonies.
Belpre High graduation:
The 74 members of Belpre High School's Class of 2014 received diplomas during commencement exercises at the school Sunday afternoon.
Class valedictorian is Jacob Buskirk, and the salutatorian is Brennen Ferrell.
Class colors are black and silver.
The class motto is "Life is a garden, just dig it."
Source: Belpre High School.
Class valedictorian Jacob Buskirk called graduation an opportunity for his fellow classmates.
"We can choose our paths in life, what we want to be and what we want to make of our lives," he said. "And I urge all of you to continue learning throughout your lives. You can always learn more about the fascinating world around us. And you have the power to make your lives better."
Salutatorian Brennen Ferrell encouraged the grads to make every second of their life count.
"It's not the things we do in life, but the things we don't do that lead to regret," he said. "We're just getting started-and don't ever give up."
After receiving diplomas, the graduating class was dismissed with a last group singing of the Belpre High alma mater with their classmates. And finally the ceremonies ended with the traditional tossing of mortar boards into the air.
On the lawn outside the gym senior class president Mackenzie Rice gave her mom, Robin Mackenzie, a big hug following the ceremonies.
"We're very proud of her, and we're excited to see what's up for her future," Robin said.
Mackenzie said she's headed to college in the fall.
"I'm going to study athletics training at Ohio University, and also train to become a physician's assistant," she said.
Fellow grad Ryan Mason said his senior year went by quickly.
"I think this was the fastest year of all," he said, adding that he'll be attending Washington State Community College next fall to study engineering, then he plans to transfer to Ohio University.