CLAYSBURG - Addressing her fellow graduates Sunday, Claysburg-Kimmel valedictorian Rachel Kay Walter compared the Class of 2014 to a tree: There might have been tough times and droughts, but nourishing rain would always return.
It was a fitting analogy as rain pelted the high school, keeping most of the 80 graduates indoors as parents and loved ones swarmed them with cameras and flowers.
"Oh my gosh, I'm so excited. I can't even believe it happened," Kansas Lamborn, 18, of Claysburg said, beaming in her white cap and gown. Lamborn, set to study business at the Allegany College of Maryland, is one of the 56 graduates planning on further education.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich / Just before the graduation ceremony at Claysburg-Kimmel High School Sunday afternoon, class officers shared a few memories. Pictured are (from left) Marshall Neff, president; Emily Weiland, secretary and salutatorian; Cody Dugan, vice president; and Rachel Walter, treasurer and valedictorian.
"I'm excited, even though it's going to be totally different," she said. "But I'm sure I'll be fine."
Sitting behind a specially made flag bearing the class colors, the Class of 2014 listened as high school Principal Michael O'Dellick reminded them that family and relationships come before jobs and possessions.
The past year brought more than a few laurels to the district's seniors: With more than half the class putting in time as athletes, salutatorian Emily Rose Weiland said, their teams reached playoffs and, in at least one case, shattered a decades-long losing record.
They've succeeded academically, as well, with high test scores and record attendance at statewide extracurricular competitions, she said.
With dozens attending college or trade schools, two joining the military and more than 20 going directly to the workforce, the seniors grinned as their parents offered high-fives and hugs in a crowded hallway.
For 18-year-old Tyler Brown of Claysburg, also set to study at the Allegany College of Maryland, it's time for the next step.
"It's kind of relieving," Brown said of finishing his time at Claysburg-Kimmel. "But at the same point, I'll probably end up missing it."