A late summer graduation

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 12, 2005

More than 140 students became the first graduates of King’s Fork High School on June 11.

But there were a few names and faces missing. Sitting at home watching her classmates grab their diplomas on television, Ashlee Rodgers wished she was wearing the cap and gown that day.

&uot;I was about to cry,&uot; said Rodgers. &uot;I should have seen me up there.&uot;

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Because of a bad grade in English, she had to attend an extra semester of school. Over the next few months, Rodgers headed to Lakeland for her last class.

A few rooms away, Cavaliers Terrence Copeland and Rashad Ross were in summer school completing their geometry classes.

&uot;It was hard,&uot; Copeland said. &uot;It was one of my hardest courses, but I got it now.&uot;

During his &uot;regular&uot; school year, Ross said he didn’t get along with his teacher.

&uot;But (the summer school teacher) broke stuff down to me. She put a year’s worth into five weeks. It was a different message.&uot;

On Thursday morning, the three students and 105 others from around the area finally got their own special day during the summer school commencement exercises at Lakeland.

&uot;I stand before you and congratulate you,&uot; said School Board Chairwoman Lorraine Skeeter. &uot;We may not get to shake every hand, but we want you to know how grateful we are that you stayed focused enough to achieve a milestone in your life.

&uot;We expect you to do the best you can do and be the best you can be.&uot;

Aside from Suffolk’s three public high schools, graduates from First Colonial, Franklin,

Surry County, Smithfield, Southampton and Windsor and Gates and Hertford counties, N.C., received diplomas Thursday.

&uot;From kindergarten through 12th grade, you have persevered,&uot; said guest speaker Randolph Boone, the school system’s pupil personnel coordinator. &uot;You have faced and conquered the many challenges of the last 12 or 13 years.

&uot;You have traveled many paths in your major educational highway. There have been straight-aways and curves, hills and valley and bridges to cross. Yet here you are today as a result of your academic success and you are to be commended.

&uot;What is your future?&uot; he asked. &uot;What is your destiny? Become decision-makers. Become responsible citizens. Improve the quality of life around your. Become involved. You have accomplished a lot, and you have inherited much more. Look forward to your future! Look forward to your destiny!&uot;

After receiving her diploma, Rodgers already was.

&uot;This means everything to me!&uot; she said, referring to graduation. &uot;It was great, just walking across the stage and having everyone look at me.&uot;