Class of 2017 departs from Weir High School

WEIR’S COMMENCEMENT — Graduating members of the Weir High Class of 2017, along with family and school officials gathered in the high school gymnasium Tuesday for commencement exercises. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — The 136 members of the Weir High School Class of 2017 took their final steps as high school students, and their first steps as graduates Tuesday.

Gathered in the high school’s gymnasium for their final time as a class, surrounded by parents, teachers and school administrators, the class was welcomed and congratulated by Principal Kristin Bissett.

“These diplomas represent years of hard work, commitment, dedication and achievement,” Bissett said.

She encouraged the class to set their goals high, but to be careful of how they measure their success, noting it is important to focus on their own lives and determine what they want for themselves instead of comparing themselves to others.

Mary Babinchak and Adam Cowden provided the student’s welcome on behalf of the class, noting that, as the 101st graduating class, they were helping to usher in the second century of Weir High School history.

Georgia Beatty and Abigail Cowher presented the highest honors address, noting the milestone of their lives marked by high school graduation.

Cowher encouraged her classmates to grow into adulthood, but to remember and keep some of the qualities of their childhood.

“I know nothing more determined or stubborn than a child,” Cowher said, saying it is important to stay persistent and creative in their lives, and to view each day as a new adventure.

Beatty reflected on the words of Thomas Paine and George Washington, looking at their trials, successes and failures. She said the class is made up of fighters, writers, thespians, athletes and more, but together they also are a family that has come together and overcome many challenges.

“All the world’s realities are waiting for us right outside those gymnasium doors,” she said, encouraging the class to push forward as they embark on the unknown future. “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Zachary Hannah and Abby Wallace provided closing remarks, with Hannah noting the conclusion of their high school careers with the acceptance of their diplomas.

“They represent the memories and experiences we have shared over the last four years,” Hannah said, expressing appreciation to those who have supported them.

Wallace noted the class will be heading in many directions, with some going to college, or joining the military, and spreading across the country to face the future.

“Our Rider Nation is certainly spreading,” Wallace said. “We all have the same roots no matter how far our branches grow.”

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson also took a moment to encourage the class to continue their education, explaining by continuing to learn, they provide themselves with new pathways in life.

“Education is your ladder, and as high school graduates you are now on a higher rung,” she said. “No one can take your education away from you.”

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)