Turning Their Tassels

Amy Shuler Goodwin is convinced all a graduate needs are five objects- a telescope, shoes, a mirror, a hardhat and a compass-to succeed in life, advice she offered to the 367 newest graduates of Wheeling Park High School Sunday at WesBanco Arena.

“The best gift for graduates is something to help guide them in their lives,” Goodwin, a WPHS alumnus, said to the sea of red, white and blue graduation gowns. “I promise you will use these gifts. You need a telescope to look to where you want to end up in life, shoes to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, a mirror to take a deep, honest look at yourself, because success requires self-improvement, a hardhat, because life is tough and you need to be tough back, and a compass so you can always check your moral compass.”

Goodwin, a 1989 graduate of WPHS and the director of communications for the Office of West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, was named “Outstanding Alumnus” at the graduation ceremony.

“Go out and work and do good,” Goodwin said. “You have spent the majority of your lives in school and now here is the prize.”

In her address, valedictorian Samantha Dodd encouraged her fellow classmates to “write the next chapter” of their lives as they venture into life after graduation.

“It’s surreal, it’s chilling, but it’s exhilarating,” Dodd said. “Our story will have new settings and characters, but its worth the risk of writing a book you want to remember. As you go out, don’t forget the 370 people who have helped shape who you are.”

Co-salutatorians Christa Calangelo and Rebecca Sellers urged their class to “cherish the last few moments together” that day.

“We have laughed together. We have lost together,” Calangelo said. “These experiences make you a stronger person. Remember every ending is just a new beginning.”

WPHS principal Amy Minch announced the Class of 2013 was offered more than $6.8 million in scholarships and grants.

The recipient of the Patrick A. Clutter Scholarship awarded to a student to continue his or her education in radio and television was Evan Bender. Sellers was awarded the J.T. Thomas Memorial Scholarship given to a senior who exemplifies the characteristics of scholarship, leadership, character and service. The WPHS Alumni Scholarship was given to Eleni Nardone.

Haley Usenick and Casey Pfister were awarded the Beneke Scholarship, Madeline Friday and Kaitlyn Scott were named distinguished scholars and Dodd, Megan Randolph and Sellers were named Outsanding Achievement Scholars.

Class secretary Nardone and treasurer Jacob Marino announced the graduating class will donate the remainder of the class budget to a seat in the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center as the class gift.

Teacher and head speech coach Bill Cornforth was recognized at the ceremony as “an example of commitment and dedication” in teaching.

He advised the graduating class to make good choices in their lives if they want to be memorable.