As the last of the 188 blue mortarboards fluttered to the floor of the Central High gymnasium, Marian McWilliams had a sudden case of deja vu. Her 18-year-old twins, Brian and Nicole, were part of the first full graduating class Monday night at Central, the county's newest high school.
A dozen years ago, her other set of twins, Kevin and Kenneth, were members of the first full graduating class at Springstead High School.
"When you see this, it makes you feel like it was all worth it," said Mrs. McWilliams, whose husband died 10 years ago and who has supported her children on a secretary's salary.
"I told them, "Now that you've graduated, don't stop here,'
" said Kenneth, who said he always regretted that he and his brother did not finish college.
It was an overflow crowd that filled the 1,800-seat gymnasium on a perfect spring evening.
Central opened just three years ago with no seniors, a sprinkling of juniorsand a full class of sophomores. Those original sophomores were the graduates last night.
"I can't describe it," said a jubilant Brian McWilliams seconds after the ceremony was over and he had hugged his mother. "It's the biggest thing in my life so far."
George Fribley, the gymnasium custodian who had to clean up the place after the ceremony, and who was always there during sports and cheerleading practice, said he had mixed feelings about seeing the senior class go.
"I'm glad they're leaving.
"No, I'm going to miss them," he quickly added after a short pause.
It was a quick ceremony _ just longer than an hour _ but like all graduations, it featured plenty of emotion, plenty of cameras and plenty of videotaping from the top row of the gym.
"Yesterdays are gone, but tomorrows are ours to conquer," valedictorian Denise Osborne told her classmates, whose chairs filled the basketball court.
"We all can do whatever we want, even though the future may seem uncertain."