Turn the tassels

WEIRTON More than 100 graduates were ushered into the next stage of their lives at Weir High School’s 98th commencement ceremony, held in the Carl R. Hamill Fieldhouse Tuesday evening.

The ceremony began with a moment of silence to honor the late John T. Grossi, a former principal who passed away in the course of the previous school year.

Principal Dan Enich also took a moment to recognize two special graduates: Josh Boyd and Pete Lonchar.

Lonchar, 95 “years young,” is a Weirton native who went straight to work in his youth without ever finishing high school. The personnel at Valley Haven Nursing Home in Wellsburg have helped him study to earn the diploma that he finally received alongside the rest of the graduating class of 2014. The students had unanimously voted to share the evening with Lonchar, Enich said.

Boyd was paralyzed from the neck down in a motorcycle accident last summer, and he overcame immense physical hardship to be able to walk in the commencement with his friends and peers.

“He came to this graduation because he had a goal. To walk through the commencement with his friends and receive that diploma that he values,” Enich said. “Please use these two as a benchmark in the struggles for the goals that you are striving toward. Value what you have. Value the diploma you get tonight.”

The audience was welcomed by Morgan Abbott, class secretary and among this year’s Highest Honors graduates, before Enich introduced the rest of the Highest Honors graduates: Morgan Cassels, Akeem Curenton, Morgan Goff, Alex Hannah, Ella Jennings, Daniel Mohoroski, Daniel Morgan, Tori Pierce, Morgan Rice, Joshua Sayre, Deben Shoup, Emily Tomer, Brooke Turner, Stephen White and Noah Woods.

Tomer represented those 16 students when she delivered the Highest Honors Address.

“When I came to Weir High freshman year, I didn’t know a single person. I was terrified in a school full of strangers, but I was excited about the chance for a new beginning. Now that I’m graduating I have amazing friends and memories that I hope to keep for the rest of my life. I’m sure most of us are feeling the way I felt freshman year: nervous and excited. All of us are moving on from high school. All of our lives are about to change dramatically. But it’s exciting to know we have the chance to move on to bigger and better things. Using the knowledge we learned from being in this school for four years, I am confident that we are prepared to go out and face the challenges the world has to offer,” Tomer said. “Once a Rider, always a Rider.”

Enich offered some final words of advice to the class of 2014.

“You know right from wrong. Work hard when no one is looking. Never quit. Never give up. Whatever circumstances you face, you need to endure,” Enich said. “This night, one more hour, will be the last time this group will coexist as a singular unit. Take my advice, don’t be a stranger. Visit the school. Come to plays, athletic events, open houses. Keep in contact with Weir High School.”