Daily News photo/ALY GIBSON Abbi Williamson gets some help from junior Maggie Cripe before the 2012 Dowagiac Union High School graduation ceremony Sunday at Chris Taylor Alumni Field.

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Union High celebrates graduates

Published 3:36pm Sunday, June 3, 2012

The edges of Dowagiac Union High School’s Chris Taylor Alumni Field were abuzz Sunday as more than 100 seniors graduated.

In the 148th annual commencement ceremony, 104 graduates donned black and orange caps and gowns as they marched onto the football field. After an uncertain few days of chilly, wet weather, Sunday’s ceremony was greeted with sun and breeze as the stands filled with parents, family and friends.

“It’s emotional,” Principal Paul Hartsig said before the processional. “I love seeing these kids graduate after four years of hard work. My focus is on them today; it’s their day.”

For graduates Kristina Losey and Matt Dodd, they said a feeling of excitement was the first thing on their minds.

“It feels good, and I’m really excited for today,” said Losey, who plans to major in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for English.

Dodd, who plans to study law enforcement and criminal justice, agreed.

“The hardest thing was finding balance with sports, schoolwork and social life,” Dodd said. “But today, it’s nice to know it’s over.”

Queenisha Owens echoed the difficulties, also.

“I had a baby sophomore year, and I didn’t think I would make it here,” Owens said. “I don’t think other people thought I would make it here either, but I did.”

Though attendance was a struggle, Owens said she was proud of the accomplishment.
“I did it on my own, and I’m happy,” Owens said.

Parents and family members also expressed their pride over the graduates. For Rhonda Thomas, she said she was happy her nephew, George, achieved the milestone.

“It’s great that he kept a level head and went straight for it,” Thomas said. “I know we’re all super proud of him.”

For others, a sense of relief was evident.

“The beginning (of high school) seemed really overwhelming,” Chris Hess, who will attend Southwestern Michigan College for pre-med, said. “I’ll miss the teachers I had the most.”

Losey said she was proud of herself and her friends, knowing they’re going onto the next chapter in life.

“It was a long four years,” Losey said. “But it was so worth it.”

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