05/30/04 — Graduation -- Relying on faith

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Graduation -- Relying on faith

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 30, 2004 9:15 AM

Eastern Wayne High School graduate Angelina Lugo has achieved much in the last year. But none of it came without a price.

In March, 2003, she lost her older brother Michael, 17, and younger brother Joseph, 14, as well as close family friend Nicole Long in a car accident on the way to school.

She spent months recuperating in a Greenville hospital, enduring physical therapy and hours of being tutored to keep up her studies.

She was released in mid-May, just in time to visit the school once before exams began.

The return was bittersweet.

The now only child to Mike and Sandi Lugo was named a junior marshal for graduation, having managed to keep up her grades to place in the top 7 percent of her class.

While in high school, she has been a member of Students Against Drunk Driving, the foreign language club, was a cheerleader and played junior varsity soccer and basketball.

During her senior year, she was named senior homecoming princess, was voted student of the year by teachers at the school, received a special Wayne County public school counselors' award, and was a recipient of a N.C. Teaching Fellow scholarship.

She will apply the four-year scholarship to Meredith College, where she plans to study French and English as a second language. A condition of the scholarship is that upon graduation, students commit to work for four years in North Carolina public schools or they will be required to pay back part of the money.

This year, one of her courses was in early childhood education, which required two days of classroom instruction a week. The other three days, she worked as an aide in a kindergarten class at Eastern Wayne Elementary School. She also worked after school with 2-year-olds at Carter Christian Academy, where her mother is a secretary.

Angelina says she hopes to eventually teach in a middle school or high school. She gives a lot of credit to the teachers she had at Eastern Wayne for being supportive and understanding while she completed the last year.

"It's been very difficult because Joe would have been here but now is gone," she said of her brother.

Her parents have also been a strong support system.

"I'm very close with my parents," she said. "They have been great. They've been there for everything."

The family moved here at the end of Angelina's third-grade year, when her father was transferred to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. They are active members of First Assembly of God, where she sings with the worship team and is a member of the drama team.

"Part of what got us all through this so well is through our faith and the people at our church," she said.

Before she heads off to college in the fall, she said, her summer plans include several trips to the beach with her youth group and spending a lot of time with family.