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May 30, 2003

Shelby High students graduate

From: Shelby Star, NC - May 30, 2003

Cassie Tarpley
Star Staff Writer

SHELBY — Shelby High School's 151 graduating seniors shushed each other as the first notes of "Pomp and Circumstance" beckoned them on their march to the future Friday night.

Family and friends packed Malcolm Brown Auditorium to the legal limit to see the Class of 2003 joyously toss their tassels, egged on by top-of-their-class speakers Chase Campbell, Jay Chitty and Alex Pearson telling them their help is wanted in the community, nation and world.

"I think it's an important milestone because it's the end, but in a way, it's only the beginning," said senior Kathryn Mullen, on her way to final instructions for the graduation procession.

After Friday's ceremony, she was headed "wherever the party's at," but has a more serious future planned. Meredith College as a Teaching Fellowship is ahead for Miss Mullen, who wants to teach Spanish.

Classmate William Noblitt agreed the evening was "real important."

"To me, it hasn't really sunk in yet," said Noblitt, headed to N.C. State on a tennis scholarship.

"When I realize I'm leaving high school and leaving all my friends, it will start to sink in."

Burney Drake, ending his first year as principal at Shelby High, said the Class of 2003 is "very talented."

"I've known all of these kids for four years, some for five years," said Drake, formerly at Shelby Middle School.

"They're very outstanding," he said, and have done well in the arts, athletics and academics.

One of those is Holly Mabry, wearing the gold medallion of an honor graduate, the gold cord of a Beta Club member and the blue and gold tassel signifying membership in the National Honor Society.

Miss Mabry, along with fellow graduate Meg Bidwell, won the Malcolm and Janie Brown Award, given "if you overcome certain obstacles," she said.

"I'm hearing impaired and visually impaired, so it was harder for me to achieve," she said.

She plans to continue that achievement at UNC-Chapel Hill as she studies information systems and library science.

Parents had much to celebrate Friday too.

Graduate Alvin Tyronne Jefferies is "your typical 18-year-old," said his father, Alvin "Butch" Wilson Jr.

"He's strong, fast and ready for the next level," Wilson said. Jefferies plans to attend Gaston College.

In a time that it's tough to be a teen, he said, Wilson worked to help keep his son focused, "by giving constructive criticism and showing him what I did so he would not make the same mistakes."

Graduates, flanked by musicians from the Shelby High Orchestra, filled the stage with about 200 people in a house with a capacity of 1,457.

That limited tickets for guests to 1,200, and several stood at the doors hoping for a last-minute seat.

Senior Sharina Camp clutched a gold ticket and peered anxiously down the driveway, looking for her mother.

"My mom, dad, stepdad, little sister, grandpa, stepgrandmother, three aunts and my uncle" were coming to see her graduate, she said. "I had to get a lot of extra tickets."

The ceremony was important to her too, she said. "I'm just finally through."

The hardest part was staying focused, trying to avoid the distractions of "sports, boys and partying," she said. She plans to study law at N.C. Central University in Durham.

She'll have to make excellent grades, she knows, "Plus, you've got to stay in school forever, but I'm willing to try it."

As the music started, 151 pairs of feet shod in wingtips and loafers, spiked heels and sandals walked into the auditorium toward their next world.

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