By Kim Walter
Central High School will hold its graduation at 7:30 p.m. Friday night inside the new gymnasium.
The 189 graduates in the Class of 2013 have received about $2.6 million in scholarships. With 66 percent of the seniors earning an advanced studies diploma, it's not surprising that 65 percent of the class is attending a two- or four-year college.
Ten percent of the graduating class, however, has chosen to join the military.
One of those students is 17-year-old Lukas Waldron. He'll head off to basic training at the end of the month before attending the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Lukas, also an honors student, always thought of joining the military since both his mom and dad were in the Air Force. As he got further into his high school career, he decided he wanted to be fighter pilot, and knew the academy would be the "perfect place" to make those dreams a reality.
The choice came with added responsibilities, though.
"I really had to boost my GPA, so I took as many [advanced placement] classes as I could," he said.
As graduation approached, Lukas started sending out his "resume" to congressmen in order to get an academy nomination. He said the process was nerve-wracking, especially knowing how many students from across the country were doing the same thing.
He said if the resume wasn't good enough, his shot at the Air Force could have disappeared.
However, Lukas got the good news he was waiting for in April.
"It was like a wave of relief just washed over me," he said. "And then I started to feel excited. It was all coming together, everything I've been working for."
Over the next few weeks, Lukas hopes to get in plenty of time with friends and family. He's looking forward to getting his diploma Friday night - something that didn't seem so special until now.
"It's just happening so fast," he said. "It's a really big step to take in a short amount of time."
Lukas said he knows of several other seniors who were enlisting. He said the group sat down and talked about their decision.
"I think it made me realize what kind of commitment we're all making," he said. "But I'm feeling confident looking forward."
Donn Foltz, a government teacher and chairman of the senior class, said the seniors did a good job participating in class events and showed a lot of camaraderie.
"They've really come together these past few weeks," he said Thursday afternoon. "It makes me proud."
Foltz said the class excelled in athletics and academics, and really "seemed to be on top of things."
"This is one of our larger classes, but they all still manage to impress," he said. "Every year I tell the senior class that they are special, different from the ones before, and this group is no exception."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or email@example.com