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246 earn diplomas Thursday in commencement exercises

KINGWOOD — The parking lots were filled, and people were finding spots wherever they could an empty space could be found Thursday evening.

They were all there to see their son, daughter, grandchild, and in some cases great-grandchild graduate from Preston High School.

This year, diplomas were awarded to 246 students during a ceremony at the football field.

Prior to graduation, the hallway leading to the bleachers was lined with both students and families taking photos and talking about future plans.

Graduation is a time of saying farewell to a high school, and its faculty, that has been a home to students for four years. It is also a time when friends go their own way — some to college, some to a vocational school and some to join a branch of the military.

Prior to the graduation ceremony several students agreed to discussed their plans for the future.

Graduate McKenzia Bankhead, daughter of Sharon and Allen Bankhead of Bruceton Mills, said she plans to attend West Virginia University and enroll in the nursing program.

Others’ plans aren’t so set just yet.

“I plan to get a job and then go to college after I figure what I want to major in,” Skylar Liston, son of Willis Liston and stepmother Cheryl Liston, said.

“I’m proud of him,” Willis Liston said about his son.

Emily Augustine, daughter of Tanya and Don Augustine of Bruceton Mills, said she also plans to enroll in the nursing program at WVU. She said being a nurse is what she has always wanted to do.

Working with patients isn’t for everyone.

“I’ve always loved working on diesels,” Austin Reckart, son of Jason and Carrie Reckart of Tunnelton, said. “I want to pursue a career as a diesel mechanic.”

Taylor Teter-Hoff, daughter off Ashley Teter and Christopher Hoff of Kingwood, said she plans to go to WVU and enroll in the pharmacy program.

“I can’t express how proud I am of her,” her grandmother, Michelle Whetsell, said, “She’s been amazing from kindergarten to now. She’s a good student who has always won awards.”

James Wagner, son of Robin and Doug Wagner of Tunnelton, said he is going to pursue a career in art.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I have been drawing pictures since I was about 6 years old.”

Not everyone who makes graduation a success is in the limelight. Some work behind the scenes to make graduation day run smoothly. Danielle Barker said this is her 10th year as graduate coordinator.

“We work as a team,” she said. “We make sure everything is in place for graduation, including things like flowers and chairs. It’s our job to see that everything is ready in time for graduation.”