May 22 felt like any other day to Sam Wagner.
He woke up, went to school, attended class, left school, worked and then headed to the tennis court.
See more photos and add your own at FANDY.COM's Pixboard.
It didn’t sink in at the time that the day marked the end of an era. It didn’t sink in high school was over for Wagner and would only exist from then on as a memory.
“I just don’t feel yet — it seems like I wasn’t paying attention, but I was,” said Wagner, 18, a Bellevue High School senior. “That’s what I regret: I wish I paid more attention, but I don’t know how I would have done that. I just wish I would have enjoyed the moment more. It doesn’t seem like it was 12 years.”
He may not have felt it on the last day of school, but there was no avoiding feeling the gravity of the situation on Saturday.
Along with about 188 of his peers, Wagner strolled across the stage on Saturday night at BAF Stadium to receive a diploma and a warm handshake of congratulations.
Before Saturday, they were all high school seniors — still youths in the eyes of family members and the community at large.
But with a flip of a tassel, everything changed. Just like that, 189 Bellevue students transformed into high school graduates.
Now comes greater freedom and more responsibility, big expectations and endless possibilities.
Addressing graduates, superintendent Bud Martin urged students against shrinking from challenges, no matter how tough, and opportunities, no matter how intimidating.
“If you want to achieve great things in your life, you have to take risk,” Martin said. “Risk is daring to feel deeply, to be passionate about what you want and care about.”
Like Wagner, who works two jobs and is already mapping out his collegiate finances, Christina Shelley knows many hardships lay ahead.
The BHS 2009 Class’ valedictorian (POSSIBLY THE VALEDICTORIAN... WILL FIND OUT TOMORROW), Shelley is no stranger to hard work.
Earning straight A’s and high test scores, Shelley procured a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, where she will study biology with a focus on pre-veterinary medicine.
Even though she will likely have to find a job near the college, Shelley’s not worried about being overwhelmed.
She already juggles work and school.
Besides, Shelley’s delighted by the idea she will be able to choose her classes. Part of the appeal comes from choosing which classes not to take.
“I hate history and social studies,” Shelley said. “It just doesn’t interest me at all.”