High school can be a time of uncertainty and growth, but also of cherished memories, whether they're of a first car, a first love, a best friend or a prom that lived up to all the fantasies.
As graduations take place all across the Mid-Ohio Valley and across the country, graduates are reflecting but so are many past graduates, who may feel a twinge of nostalgia as they see those caps and gowns.
For Mike McCauley, a member of Marietta High School's class of 1960, it was a Central Ohio League win that remains his favorite memory. He played on the basketball team with high school stars like Frank Christy and Tom Baker.
Mary (Parsons) Anderson, third row, third from left, was society editor for the Williamstown High School newspaper in 1953.
Photo courtesy of Marietta High School
Shaving cream day was one of the events photographed in the Marietta High School 2005 yearbook.
Photo courtesy of Kristen Warden
Warren High School 2008 graduate Kristen (Lowe) Warden, left, poses with fellow cheerleaders Stacy McCutcheon, center, and Brittany Knight at the 50 yard line.
A large banner recognized the Marietta High School Class of 1960 in this photo from the 1960 Orion yearbook.
"I was on the team, but spent a lot of time on the bench," he said. "We had two losses that year, and both were to Chillicothe. But then we played them here on the Marietta College court and beat their pants off."
For Kristen Warden, who graduated in 2008 from Warren High School, cheerleading was the highlight of her high school years.
"I absolutely loved cheerleading and the group of people I was with," she said. "I started when I was in grade school and kept it up through high school."
Warden said the Warren cheerleaders won many competitions in cities throughout Ohio and other states.
"We even competed in Pittsburgh and won," she said. "Our trophies are probably still on display at the high school."
Mary (Parsons) Anderson, class of 1953, wrote for the school paper at Williamstown High.
"I was the society editor," she said. "We mostly wrote about just trivial things going on at school."
Anderson recalled that each class at the high school would play against others in inter-class tournaments.
"We had class cheerleaders, too, and I won an award for best class cheerleader one year-it was a little megaphone on a silver necklace," she said.
Anderson was also a member of the school thespian group.
"You had to have been in so many plays before you could join the thespians," she said. "I don't remember all of the plays, but I do recall one was called 'Lunatics at Large.'"
Belpre High School Class of 2014 graduate Tyler Byers said the school talent shows would be among his top high school memories.
"I won the talent show playing drums twice, once in my sophomore year and once as a senior," he said. "I was up against a lot of good talent, too. But I've been playing drums since I was 8 years old."
Fellow BHS grad Ryan Mason said he'll always remember one day in drama class.
"We were just messing around, and I decided to put on this nice pink dress," he said. "I used two hats to enlarge my chest area. After that I was never offered any parts that required me to wear a dress."
Michelle Farley, who graduated from Marietta High in 2003, has some good memories of her high school years.
"I enjoyed going to the dances and football games with all of my friends," she said. "We loved the rivalries with other schools.
It was a blast to dress up in our school colors and harass the other team."
Farley said the school had five big dance events every year, including the Valentines Day dance, Snow Ball, prom, homecoming and the annual Sadie Hawkins Day dance.
"The girls had to invite the guys to the Sadie Hawkins dance," she said. "And even if we didn't have a date, the girls would all get together and still have a great time."
Jeff Beaver, current president of the Frontier High School Alumni Association, graduated with a class of 112 in 1976.
"The thing I remember most is that we were all a very close class," he said. "And we still are pretty close. Kids are not that way today, but back then there were a lot of events centered at the school, and the sports programs were better because there was more participation."
Beaver said the teachers were a mix of veterans and recent grads.
"The teachers were really great," he said. "We had older teachers who had been there for years, but there were also some younger ones right out of college."
Emily Hinton will graduate with the Marietta High Class of 2014 Sunday.
"I enjoyed helping out in the guidance counseling office this year. I'm hoping to pursue a career as a paralegal secretary," she said. "But one memory I'll have is painting the spirit rock last week for my friend's 18th birthday."
Classmate Justin Warner noted the spirit rock was also stolen during this past year.
"They dragged it along the roadway that runs near my house," he said.
Warner said he has good memories of attending the Hugh O'Brien Youth leadership seminar at Dennison University for a week.
"I learned a lot there," he said. "And we'll all remember this year's senior night basketball game. It was the last game of the season, against Fort Frye, and it was one of the best."