May 28, 2014 Edition

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Angel Burton (left) and Victoria Clairday secure their graduation caps before the final Black Rock graduation on Thursday.

Black Rock celebrates
final graduating class

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Family, friends and Black Rock citizens came together Thursday night to witness the final graduating class at Black Rock High School throw their caps.

The 2014 class saw 22 students receive their diplomas, and it is just one of 119 that the school has seen since it was founded in 1894.

The incredible history of the school was praised by Alan Stinett, president of the Alumni Association, who presented the Alumni award to Megan Carey. He said he thought the saying rang true, "Once a Zebra, always a Zebra."

"Wherever you go, you can take your Zebra spirit and your Zebra passion with you," he said to both the graduating students and those who will continue their public education at another school.

Caleb McKenzie, class salutatorian, shared a similar idea about the mark Black Rock School has left on its students and the community. "As we leave Black Rock High School, we are not only graduating, but we are leaving a legacy," he said.

For Valedictorian Rachael Weekley, the time went by all too quickly. She said much of her time has been spent working towards college, because, for many, going to college means you will make more money. She said she knew she would need money in life and that money could buy her many things, but it can't buy the time she had at Black Rock School.

She reflected on the relationships she had made at the school, and the lifelong friendships she had gained. She even recalled little sayings spoken by the teachers.

The emotion of leaving Black Rock School could be felt throughout the room during her speech. Family and friends held tissues close and Weekley choked up several times while speaking about her time at the school.

"God never closes a door without the intention of opening one with better opportunities," she said to her classmates.

She told her family, friends, the faculty at the school and the many others there to witness the final Black Rock graduation that she loved them all.

The seniors at Black Rock have gone through a life-changing final year at Black Rock showing pride for their school and sorrow that it is closing.

Stinett thanked the Lawrence County School Board graciously for their efforts in helping to keep Black Rock open for as long as it has.

Weekley told her fellow graduates that as they start the next stage of their lives it is likely that they will make mistakes. She told them to not only accept those mistakes but to embrace them. She said it may seem strange for the class valedictorian to encourage mistakes but she believed mistakes are a necessary part of life.

"In school we learn and then we are tested, in life we are tested and from that we learn," she said.

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