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Graduation: a 'big step'

"Twelve years of education came to a close Wednesday night when the Olympic High School class of 2000 graduated.It never loses any specialness. I'm excited for each and every class, said Mary Beth Campbell, a teacher at Olympic for 20 years. These are some hard-working kids.Students were led like foreign dignitaries into the hall, complete with a musical processional and security guards wearing tuxedoes and ear pieces. The seniors entered the hall from two sides and took their places in a roped-off section of Kitsap County Fairgrounds Pavilion under the adoring eyes of a packed house of family and friends.Student speakers thanked and quoted everyone from Jesus Christ to former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during a ceremony that featured the class ASB president and three valedictory speeches.The graduating students smiled unceasingly, but the crowd's mood was more bittersweet. Parents watched as 18 years of parenting and guidance crescendoed into their children's names being called out one by one. I think it's wonderful, said Janice Williams, whose son Thomas Williams is her second to graduate from high school. It's sad, though. You're saying goodbye.For Patti DuPont, whose daugher Kirsten Pacheco is the oldest of her three children, this is the first in what will be a series of goodbyes.It's not going to get any easier, DuPont said. It's sad for moms. She's all grown up. As the ceremony came to a close, a dull rumble began when class leaders led the seniors in turning their tassles to symbolize their graduation. The ceremony came to a full roar as the class threw the flowers they recieved into the air.I'm so psyched, said Brent Butherus, who could barely stand still after the ceremony. It's thuggish.Behind the pavilion, anyone with a blue gown was a celebrity.As her class slowly filed out to Grad Night or other celebrations, graduate Chymara Pittman slowed down for a second amid the chaos of parents and students outside of the pavilion.I'm taking deep breaths, Pittman said. It's a big step in my life."

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