By Kim Walter
For the first time since its opening six years ago, Skyline High School will hold graduation indoors.
Due to a chance of thunderstorms, the 242 graduates of Skyline's Class of 2013 will walk across a stage in the school's gymnasium at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Overflow guests will go to the auditorium to watch a broadcast of the graduation there.
Principal Andrew Keller noted that the class is "full of character."
Ashleigh Salyers, 18, is president of the school's Interact Club, which focuses on participating in community service activities. She agreed with Keller's comment, and said she felt the growth of the club was part of it.
"My freshman year, we had about seven people who were really into the club," she said Thursday morning during graduation practice. "But now we've got a solid group of about 60 students."
She said teachers and other peers constantly spread the word about the club, and why it was important to help as a part of the Front Royal and Warren County community. The club worked with the local Rotary Club, Salvation Army and Stop Hunger Now.
Several incidents involving other students also brought the class closer together, Salyers said.
"When something bad happens to one of us, we really rally together," she said. "For the most part we all like each other and don't let the drama get in the way."
Salyers said one student in particular, James Brogan, 17, united the community without intending to.
One morning in January 2012, the teen's truck went off the road and struck a tree. James was in a coma, and spent months recovering from several fractures, head injuries and a collapsed lung.
Students, teachers and community members rallied around James and his family, selling camouflage wristbands and planning a benefit dance.
Thanks to teachers at the school, James said he came back to Skyline at the beginning of the year pretty much up to speed.
"I was able to get all my work, and I think the teachers did what they could to make sure I was caught up," he said Thursday. "Honestly, I wasn't sure I would graduate on time, but here I am."
James didn't have a ton to say about his senior year, but admitted he learned to not take things for granted. He hasn't settled on plans after graduating quite yet.
"I just want to relax," he said.
Even though he didn't show any emotion talking about the upcoming ceremony, James couldn't speak for how his family will react.
"Oh gosh, they're excited and happy ... I'm sure they'll get emotional when it comes to it," he said.
During Saturday's graduation, the recipient of the Hawk 4 Award will be named. The class had eight distinguished honor graduates with a grade point average of 4.0 and above, and 33 honor graduates. More than 60 percent of the seniors plan to attend a two- or four-year college, and almost $800,000 in financial awards were received.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org