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Preston Graduation: “An ending so a new chapter can begin”

KINGWOOD – Graduation is both a time of beginnings and a time of endings. It is a rite of passage from childhood to the beginning of a new phase of life as an adult.

Friday evening diplomas were awarded to 252 students during a ceremony in the Preston High gymnasium.

Prior to the graduation ceremony several students (and parents) discussed their plans for the future.

Kevin Fullmer of Rowlesburg said his grandson Damian plans to continue in the medical field. Fullmer said Kevin plans to go to college and become a nurse and then a physician’s assistant.

“He’s our grandson, but we raised him,” Fullmer said. “We’re very proud of him.”

Ethan Groves, son of Danny Groves and Natasha Dunson said he plans to go to technical college.

Becky Jones said she has been one of Groves’ teachers since middle school.

“He’s fantastic with math,” she said “He is a special kid.”

Dylan Richards, son of Jennifer and Timothy Nicola said he is currently working at Scott Ford, and does additional mechanic work on the side.

“I’m going to keep working at Scott Ford,” he said. “I eventually want to become a master mechanic.”

Rosemary Newman from Bruceton Mills said her son Clinton hasn’t made any definite plans yet.  She said he wants to take some time before deciding what comes next.

Gabrielle Wolf
Gabrielle Wolfe gives her remarks during graduation on Friday, at Preston High.

Heidi and John Croskey from Valley Point said their daughter Mary plans to get a job and work for a while before applying to a trade school.

“She’s a good girl,” Heidi Croskey said. “We are very proud of her.”

Chip and Patty Biggins said their daughter Ashlee Elizabeth wants to go to West Liberty and major in elementary education with a minor in music.

“She wants to be a band director,” Biggins said.

Biggins said she has another graduation to look forward to in two years. “Our son Wade will be a junior next year,” Biggins said.

Of the 252 graduates, Lieutenant Colonel Bob Molinaro said 16 graduating students were members of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). JROTC is a federal program sponsored by the United States Armed Forces in high schools and middle schools.

 He said16 to 20 students usually graduate from the program every year.  However, Molinaro said, 2022 may see that number drop in half. He said unless more students sign up only 10 students will be graduating from the JROTC program next year.

Molinaro, a Morgantown native, has 20 years of active service and 2 years in the reserves.  This year marks his 25 year of teaching JROTC.

“We try to validate that the values our students learn from their parents is correct,” he said. “This way they are hearing the same things (values they hear at home) from us too – another role model adult saying the same things their parents are saying.”

Hannah Shaffer, Honor Roll President and daughter of Michael and Shelly Shaffer of Kingwood summed up what graduating meant to her.

“I am going to attend WVU,” she said. “My best memory about high school will be the time I have been able to spend with my friends. To me, graduation is just an ending so a new chapter can begin.”

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The senior choir sings the Alma Mater.

Graduates react during graduation.

Graduates react during graduation.

Graduates react during graduation.

Kelsey Tusing receives her diploma.

Everly Baker laughs as she receives her diploma.

Hunter Beavers receives his diploma during graduation on Friday.

Preston Shaver receives his diploma during graduation on Friday.

Kaitlyn Pingley receives her diploma during graduation on Friday.

Erica Lyons receives her diploma during graduation on Friday.

Superintendent Stephen Wotring fist bumps a graduate.

Victoria Bucklew receives her diploma.

Elizabeth Friend gives her remarks during graduation.

Caleb Shrout gives his remarks during graduation.