06/10/12 — Rosewood says bye to 100th class

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Rosewood says bye to 100th class

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on June 10, 2012 1:50 AM

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Kiera Lewis walks back to her seat Friday after crossing the stage at her graduation. Lewis is a part of the Rosewood High School Class of 2012.

The look upon nearly every member of Rosewood High School's class of 2012 could best be described as stoic as they filed onto Branch Pope Field Friday night.

Sure, there was the occasional nervous laugh, a bit of idle chatter and a girl or two leaning onto a junior marshal, weary of walking through the gravel in high heels, but it was plain to see on the 115 faces of the graduation candidates that this moment would be bittersweet -- an emotion both student speakers would evoke in their addresses.

The mood was strikingly different on the way out, though -- behind every turned tassel was a smile.

It is not known for certain -- portions of Rosewood School's history have been forgotten -- but records indicate the class of 2012 is the school's 100th graduating class, and Principal Dean Sauls said the centennial class "certainly enjoyed" their time at Rosewood.

Salutatorian Michaela Smith, who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill, challenged her classmates to follow their dreams in her address, while Ginny Simpson, the class valedictorian, reminded those gathered not to forget the parents, teachers and others who helped them to get there. Ms. Simpson will attend Western Carolina in the fall.

Following the ceremony, Briana Chavious stood surrounded on all sides by about a dozen friends and family as each posed for photos with the newly minted graduate.

Ms. Chavious, 17, is joining the Army in the near future, but Friday was a time for celebration for her -- especially as she eyed her 2-year-old daughter, Ariana, held by her great-grandfather.

Ariana wore her mother's graduation cap as those gathered snapped dozens of photos.

"It was difficult, but I got through it," Ms. Chavious said of balancing motherhood with studies over the past four years.

Graduating on time with a daughter was something her mother marveled at, but Ms. Chavious' excitement wasn't just in celebrating her triumph, but also looking forward.

"I'm just ready. I'm so ready," she said.

Just outside of the stadium gates Laura Vinson stood with her parents and sister, Crystal, also a Rosewood graduate.

"I'm very proud of her," Crystal said, eyeing her newly graduated sister.

The family had a cookout planned for celebration, but Laura's eyes are already on next fall when she'll play volleyball for Johnston Community College.

"This is just another beginning," Laura, 17, said.

For Cesar Mateos, graduation was a milestone.

He remarked about how rarely Hispanic men manage to graduate from high school and credited his mother, a college graduate, for helping him to challenge that trend.

"She always told me to do my best," he said.

Mateos, 19, will attend Wake Tech in the fall.

Near the Mateos family celebration, two families came together to honor two graduates -- cousins Paul and Hallie Batson.

The two have attended school together since middle school, but will be taking different paths in the fall.

Ms. Batson will be attending Wayne Community College, where she'll pursue a degree in early childhood education, while Batson has enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Ms. Batson said graduation brought about mixed emotions, but mostly excitement.

"It's weird. It doesn't feel different," she said, thinking back to before she turned her tassel.

But for Batson, the difference would be felt Monday morning.

"I'm glad I don't have to wake up early or worry about tests," he said.

His enlistment with the Marines begins June 25, and he said he aims to get as much sleep as possible until then.